Alibaba to reveal controlling partners' names: WSJ

Alibaba Group headquarters in Hangzhou, China
Hong Wu | Getty Images

Alibaba will name the 28 people who will control the world's biggest e-commerce firm in an update to its initial public offering filing, the Wall Street Journal said, quoting people familiar with the plans.

The identities of all 28 "Lakeside Partners," who together founded Alibaba in 1999, have been the subject of speculation and controversy because of Alibaba's unusual governance structure.

According to the company's bylaws, the partners will keep an iron grip over the firm after its IPO because they hold the power to nominate directors to a majority of Alibaba's board seats.

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That provision was at the center of a dispute between Alibaba and the Hong Kong stock exchange—which does not permit listed companies to grant special powers to certain shareholders over others—and ultimately helped influence Alibaba's decision to go public in New York instead.

Alibaba, which powers 80 percent of all online commerce in China, is expected to raise more than $15 billion this year in what could be the largest-ever initial public offering by a technology company.

The company has told U.S. regulators it plans to name a full board of nine members, up from four currently. The Journal reported on Wednesday that the new members will be named in an upcoming filing.

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Alibaba declined on Wednesday to comment on the report.

The personal stakes of only two partners have been disclosed in filings so far: former English schoolteacher and lead founder Jack Ma owns 8.9 percent of Alibaba, while Joseph Tsai, co-founder and executive vice-chairman, is the only other individual with a disclosed stake—of 3.6 percent.

Yahoo and SoftBank own 22.6 percent and 34.4 percent of Alibaba, respectively, on a fully diluted basis.

— By Reuters