Hong Kong Regulator Says Shareholding Principle Is ‘Deep Rooted’

Hong Kong’s stock market regulator said the city’s rules on shareholder voting are “deep rooted,” after Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. failed to win approval for a proposed governance structure.

“The principle of ‘one share one vote’ is deep rooted in the Hong Kong capital market,” Carlson Tong, chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Many questions need to be answered before we can consider changing.”

Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, said this month it will sell shares in the U.S. in what may be the largest-ever Chinese technology initial public offering. The Hong Kong exchange, which hasn’t hosted an initial share sale of more than $4 billion since October 2010, didn’t accept Alibaba’s proposal to let its partners nominate a majority of its board of directors.

The watchdog won’t object to a proposed consultation by the Hong Kong stock exchange on shareholding structures, Tong said yesterday. Bourse operator Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. said in February it was planning to publish a consultation to consider different share classes in Hong Kong.

Alibaba may consider a future listing in China should circumstances permit, the Hangzhou-based company said March 16. The company, founded by former English teacher Jack Ma, has been valued by investment banks at as much as $200 billion.

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