Is Alibaba delaying its IPO again?

September 4, 2014, 2:48 PM UTC
Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Founder Jack Ma As Company Files for U.S. Initial Public Offering of E-Commerce Giant
Photo by Nelson Ching/Bloomberg—Getty Images

Alibaba Group originally planned to go public on August 8, because the number eight is associated with luck and wealth in Chinese culture. But it didn’t happen, without various sources saying that the timeline was just too ambitious for what is expected to be the largest tech IPO of all time.

Then, earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the revised timeline had the Chinese Internet giant beginning its IPO road-show next week (i.e., Sept. 8), with plans that it would price the following Thursday (i.e., Sept. 18).

Makes symbolic sense, but Alibaba is running out of time to make it happen.

The company still has not filed initial pricing terms with the SEC, which would be needed before beginning the roadshow. Companies typically file this information with the SEC at least two weeks before pricing, although Alibaba theoretically has until the end of tomorrow. After that, it’s hard to imagine how it sticks to its already-delayed schedule. The big question then is if Alibaba would abandon the “eights” strategy, or literally push everything back a month (causing massive headaches for other IPO hopefuls who are waiting for Alibaba to get out of the way).

In the meantime, The Wall Street Journal reports today that Alibaba has picked Goldman Sachs (GS) to be stabilization agent, which means it will oversee initial trades. Goldman is just one of six banks listed in alphabetical order on the original IPO (save for Citigroup, which is stuck at the end).

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