The Alibaba Partnership: Illustrating the Costs of Separating Ownership and Control

How does the Alibaba Partnership impact the interests of its shareholders?
Wei Jiang, Guochao Yang  | Winter 2017
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When Alibaba filed documents with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in advance of its IPO, it disclosed the details of the Alibaba Partnership, an agreement between its founding partners to create what amounted to a “dual class share structure.” This case explores several key incidents relating to the Partnership—including the Alipay Equity Transfer and the publication of a white paper documenting information Alibaba intentionally withheld from shareholders—and asks students to consider the potential costs of separation of shareholder ownership and control and whether Alibaba’s listing on the NYSE may have opened the door for shareholders to defend their interests and challenge the Partnership’s structure.

Case ID: 170304

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