Bank of America is ready to profit on Alibaba IPO after being left off the roster

September 15, 2014, 8:45 PM UTC
Pedestrians walk in front of a Bank of America Corp. branch in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Getty Images

Banks listed on Alibaba’s prospectus reads like a who’s who of the financial elite.

Credit Suisse (CS), Deutsche Bank (DB), Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan (JPM), Morgan Stanley (MS), Citi (C). And those are just the lead underwriters. The list includes a total of 35 banks overall.

However, there is one conspicuous name missing: Bank of America.

While the bank may be missing out on the prestige of being one of the underwriters, it isn’t losing out on the possibly huge profits. Bank of America (BAC) has found another way to give its investors a chance to bet on Alibaba’s potentially massive initial public offering.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank is offering an investment that takes Alibaba’s largest shareholder, SoftBank Corp. (9984), as a foundation for estimating the e-commerce giant’s valuation. It then pulls out SoftBank’s biggest listed holdings, Sprint (S) and Yahoo Japan (4689), via short positions.

Bank of America has found a trove of buyers for this complex Alibaba alternative as investors fight to get a piece of what could be the biggest IPO ever, and it has resulted in millions of dollars of commissions for the bank, reported Bloomberg News. The investment’s value has nearly tripled since it bottomed out at the beginning of March. About $500 million of these securities are currently being held by investors.

Bank of America typically charges a 1% fee on the size of each trade, in line with other comparable products at other banks, a source told Bloomberg.

Bank of America couldn’t sign-on as a lead underwriter for the Alibaba IPO due to its role handling the offering, a Chinese e-commerce competitor. The lead underwriters on Alibaba’s IPO could make about $30 million each in fees.

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