Friday's Bloomberg article broke the news that Alibaba is proceeding with a New York-based initial public offering, and the filing could come as soon as April. If true -- and it likely is because Alibaba likely leaked the info to Bloomberg Friday -- it means the company will be moving very fast.
Six weeks is about the minimum amount of time that will be needed for a listing of this size to pass from filing to actually holding its IPO. For instance, King Digital is currently preparing to undergo an IPO at the end of the month, and it filed in February. However, King is tiny in comparison to Alibaba, so things for the latter can go much faster.
Think back to Facebook's (FB) IPO. The company filed in February 2012, but didn't debut its shares until May just before Memorial Day weekend. Alibaba likely wants to debut before the June slowdown. So, ideally, a May IPO would make most sense. If Alibaba's IPO is to be just as big as -- if not bigger than -- Facebook's IPO, it has already started out late in the year vs.Facebook's timing.
So what will be the impact if there is an Alibaba IPO filing as early as next week?
Well, when news of this first broke Friday, there was an immediate jump in Yahoo!'s (YHOO) stock price. Yahoo, of course, owns 24% of Alibaba and stands to benefit when the company actually does make its public debut, because part of its stake will get sold down and monetized. Softbank's shares in Tokyo will likely go up a lot on Monday when it starts trading, because it owns 36% of Alibaba.
Beyond those immediate beneficiaries, though, there could be some others to possibly benefit: Chinese Internet companies. Over the past few days, these companies have been taken to the woodshed, first on disappointing Chinese trade-data news at the start of the week and later on worries about Ukraine and Crimea.
Sina actually owns a small piece of Alibaba -- though Alibaba also owns a big piece of Sina. Sina itself, meanwhile, might become an acquisition target in the months to come as Alibaba looks to compete more strongly in the communications area with its arch-rival Tencent.
As for Youku, the company has been emerging as the key online video player in China over the past few years. Online video is still a hugely interesting area for Tencent and Alibaba, even though it will take time to build out China's 4G mobile networks.
Finally, 58.com is like a Chinese Craigslist. It still needs to build out a mobile strategy, but it has been having a lot of success in growing its traditional personal-computer business and becoming an exchange spot for many small businesses and consumers in key Chinese cities. It may also be an attractive asset either to Tencent or to Alibaba.
I'm not saying that Tencent or Alibaba will buy 58.com -- or Youku, for that matter. But just the increased possibility that they might, in the wake of an IPO filing, will likely lead to an increase in their stock prices.