Alibaba IPO: The biggest initial public offering ever in the U.S.

A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History

A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM

A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History

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Jack Ma, chairman of the Alibaba Group.

Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

After months of anticipation, Alibaba's initial public offering has cemented its place in history as the biggest IPO ever in the U.S. Shares of the Chinese e-commerce giant, which does more sales than Amazon and eBay combined, were priced at $68 apiece on Thursday to raise $21.8 billion. No IPO in the U.S. has previously topped the $20 billion mark, though Facebook came close with $16 billion in 2012 and Visa raised $17.9 billion in 2008. The world record for largest offering is held by Agricultural Bank of China, which raised $22 billion in 2010.

Alibaba has been closely watched by investors as it planned its offering over the past several months. The company is a household name in China, where it is all but synonymous with online shopping. It is much less well known in the U.S., but essentially something of a PayPal meets Amazon meets Twitter meets Spotify meets Hulu meets plenty of other things. For almost every business you can think of, the odds are that there's an Alibaba equivalent.

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The $68 share price values Alibaba's entire company at $168 billion, which the Wall Street Journal reports makes it "instantly one of the largest listed in the U.S." and gives it a larger market capitalization than Amazon's $150 billion. Alibaba stock is scheduled to begin trading on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the aptly named ticker "BABA."

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.