Alibaba plans to IPO its logistics unit Cainiao

An Alibaba Group sign is seen at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, July 6, 2023.

Aly Song | Reuters

Alibaba plans to list its logistics unit Cainiao on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Chinese e-commerce giant said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

Alibaba will continue to hold more than 50% of the shares of Cainiao after the spinoff.

The move is part of one of the most radical shake-ups in Alibaba’s history. In March, the company said it will split its structure into six business units, the majority of which will be able to raise outside funds and go public.

Cainiao is the first of these businesses to officially file for an initial public offering (IPO). Alibaba said that there is “no assurance” that the proposed spinoff will take place.

Alibaba said the Hong Kong Stock Exchange has confirmed that the Cainiao listing may go ahead. The exchange declined to comment on individual listings.

Details have yet to surface on the pricing of shares or on the expected listing date.

Founded in 2013, Cainiao is a logistics network that helps Alibaba fulfil deliveries placed on its e-commerce platforms both in China and abroad. Alibaba aims to fulfil consumer orders within 24 hours in China and within 72 hours anywhere else in the world.

The company took a majority stake in Cainiao in 2017 and holds a nearly 70% interest as of Tuesday.

Delivery speed is a point of competition among Chinese e-commerce firms. Alibaba rival has focused on same-day delivery to boost the appeal of its platform among Chinese shoppers.

Alibaba said the IPO will enhance Cainiao’s “standalone profile among its customers, suppliers and potential strategic partners, which will help Cainiao to be in a better position to negotiate and solicit more business.”

The Chinese giant added said that the listing will “lead to a more direct alignment of the responsibilities and accountability of the management” of both Alibaba and Cainiao with their operating and financial performance.

The Cainiao IPO plans come after Alibaba announced a major leadership reshuffle in June, when former CEO Daniel Zhang stepped down and was replaced by Eddie Wu. Zhang, who retained leadership of the cloud computing unit, then made a surprise move this month to exit that business. Wu took over as the head of Alibaba’s cloud division.

As well as Cainiao, Alibaba is also looking to list its cloud computing business, though it has not officially filed for a spinoff.

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