Report: China's Alibaba plans IPO

Alibaba plans to take its business-to-business unit public, WSJ says

Chinese Internet company Alibaba.com is planning an initial public offering (IPO) for one of its business units, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported Monday.

Based in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba is one of China's biggest Internet companies, counting business-to-business trading site Alibaba and consumer auction site Taobao among its online operations. In addition, Alibaba also owns and operates Yahoo's Chinese operations in 2005 as part of a $1 billion deal, which saw Yahoo take a 40 percent stake in Alibaba.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Alibaba plans to take only its business-to-business unit public. The report, which cited an anonymous source, did not say when the listing will take place or how much Alibaba hopes to raise through the sale of shares.

Alibaba spokeswoman Christina Splinder declined to comment on the report.

Why Alibaba, which has long resisted going public, would pursue an IPO was not immediately clear.

Last September, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said the company was in no hurry to list its shares. "We spent $750 million to buy out all the small investors and let our long-time employees cash out. This is why it's not urgent for us to go public," he said, referring to money gained from Yahoo's investment in Alibaba.

At the time of Ma's comments, Alibaba had more than $250 million in cash and the Alibaba.com site was profitable.

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