The Alibaba Group, the Chinese Internet juggernaut, raised nearly $21.8 billion in its initial stock sale on Thursday, as investors flocked to buy a piece of the company that is poised to continue dominating China’s burgeoning e-commerce industry.
The company priced its shares at $68 each, at the top end of an already raised range.
At that level, the online market operator will have a market value of about $168 billion — much more than eBay, Twitter and LinkedIn combined.
Though it did not claim the title of biggest initial public offering ever, Alibaba will still lay claim to having held one of the biggest stock sales on record, surpassing offerings from Facebook and General Motors.
It made its final decision about the price of its shares after a series of meetings at the Midtown Manhattan offices of Citigroup, one of its underwriters.
Alibaba could still raise more money if its underwriters make use of an overallotment option, known in industry parlance as a “green shoe,” to sell more shares, potentially moving it into the top spot for I.P.O.s.
When it begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, Alibaba will complete a journey to prove itself one of the world’s biggest Internet behemoths.
Since it first filed to go public this spring, potential investors have salivated over the chance to buy even a small piece of a 15-year-old company that has become an amalgam of Amazon.com, eBay, Google and a slew of other technology giants.
The stock sale also marks a coming of age of the Internet in China, a country with nearly 1.4 billion, less than half of whom venture online.
Alibaba’s main pitch to investors in a globe-spanning roadshow over the past two weeks has been the enormous potential wealth that can be made as more Chinese citizens log onto the Internet and shop for goods.
A lunch presentation held for potential investors last week at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan drew more than 800 attendees eager to hear directly from the company’s top management.
By late last week, the six lead underwriters for the enormous offering announced that they would close the order books slightly earlier than scheduled, after having received a huge number of sizable orders.
Such was the enthusiasm that one hedge fund with $3 billion in assets placed a multibillion-dollar order, hoping to receive even a fraction of that amount, a person briefed on the matter has said.
But Alibaba has aimed to stock its investor base with big mutual funds like Fidelity, BlackRock and T.
Rowe Price, whom the company and its advisers believe will stick around for the long term and not run at the first sign of trouble.
Alibaba’s offering will have minted a number of new billionaires.
Alibaba Chairman Daniel Zhang on company’s IPO and global expansion during US-China trade
Chief among them is Jack Ma, the former English teacher who founded the company in 1999 with dreams of becoming an Internet millionaire. Thanks to the stock sale, the slight but intense Mr. Ma will have raised $867 million by selling a portion of his shares, with his remaining holdings now worth more than $13.1 billion.
It will also reap a windfall for Yahoo, which been a longtime shareholder but sometimes had a rocky relationship with its Chinese partner.
The American web pioneer will have raised nearly $8.3 billion through the offering, selling shares as part of an agreement with Alibaba.
The company is scheduled to begin trading on the Big Board under the ticker symbol “BABA.”