May 25, 2012, 10:59 AM’s shareholders vote to take the company private

The China-based e-commerce operator recently bought part of Yahoo’s stake.

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Minority shareholders of Ltd. today voted in favor of taking the China-based e-commerce operator private, the company announced. The vote comes days after Yahoo Inc. said it would sell part of its stake in parent company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. back to that company. 

Alibaba says that 95% of the minority shareholders voted in favor of the company’s plan to buy back the 27% of the stock that it does not own. Alibaba will buy back that stock at HK$13.50 (US$1.74) per share. “It is expected that the scheme will become effective on June 19, whereupon will become a private wholly owned subsidiary of Alibaba Group,” the company says in a statement.  Trading of the stock on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was suspended today; the company’s shares closed at HK$13.42 (US$1.73) yesterday.

Alibaba had previously said that it would have an easier time restructuring the e-commerce company were it private. About a year ago, Alibaba Group announced it would split its Taobao online retail arm into three units.

Earlier this week, Alibaba said it would pay about $7.1 billion in cash and stock to buy out about half of the 40% stake that Yahoo holds in the China-based company. In 2005, Yahoo paid $1 billion for its stake in Alibaba. Alibaba’s purchase of Yahoo’s stock will be based on a valuation of Alibaba of about $35 billion, the companies said. 

Alibaba’s Taobao e-marketplace, China’s version of, had 2010 online sales of 30 billion yuan (US$4.7 billion). Online retail sales in China reached nearly $50 billion in 2010, according to Forrester Research Inc. Alibaba’s holdings also include the trading portal, where retailers from the United States and around the world find and purchase goods and services from suppliers based in China and other countries.

International markets will be addressed at the Internet Retailer 2012 Conference &
Exhibition next month by special guest speaker Fareed Zakaria in a presentation titled “How e-commerce is poised to lead the global economy.” In another session at the conference, Michael Ober, director of merchant development, Yahoo Merchant Solutions, will speak in a session titled “10 ways to improve ROI.”

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