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Yahoo sells Alibaba.com stake
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Yahoo! Inc is selling its entire 1.14 percent stake in Alibaba.com, China's largest business-to-business Internet marketplace, for about US$150 million, nearly two years after the company went public.

Yahoo still holds a 40 percent stake in the unlisted parent company, Alibaba Group, co-founded by Chinese entrepreneur and former English teacher Jack Ma.

The American search engine is selling 57.48 million shares of Alibaba.com at HK$19.80 to HK$20.30 each, according to a term sheet obtained by Reuters yesterday. The price range represents a 4 to 6.4 percent discount to the stock's closing price of HK$21.15 yesterday.

Analysts said Yahoo's move would put pressure on Alibaba.com's stock, amid signs that its valuation has stretched well beyond its peers.

"I think it is negative for the share price not just because this is a profit taking activity, but it reflects some heightened risks (they may have) about the fundamentals of the business," said Steven Liu, an analyst with DBS Vickers.

Yahoo paid more than US$1 billion in 2005 as part of its investment into Alibaba Group.

Alibaba.com raised US$1.49 billion in its October 2007 IPO in Hong Kong, pricing the issue at HK$13.50 per share, with Yahoo buying a portion of the offering at the time.

After dropping steadily last year, Alibaba shares have come charging back this year, nearly quadrupling since January.

"We are pleased to learn of the Yahoo decision because having broader ownership of Alibaba.com with increased liquidity and support among institutional investors is what Alibaba.com hoped to achieve when it released the cornerstone investors," said John Spelich, vice president of Alibaba Group's international corporate affairs.

Last month, Alibaba Group announced a restructuring of its China Yahoo business by separating Koubei.com, a classifieds Website, from China Yahoo and transferring the unit into its retail Website, Taobao.com.

Alibaba Group owns about 74 percent of Alibaba.com.

(Shanghai Daily September 15, 2009)

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