The event last November had all the earmarks of a big stock launch: photo ops with the charismatic business leader, a crush of international media, and the unmistakable buzz that comes with being near the center of the financial universe. Only this wasn’t a stock listed in New York. It was a Chinese business-to-business Web portal called Alibaba.com that was about to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The performance didn’t disappoint. The opening price, which had struck some analysts as high at $1.75, skyrocketed nearly 200 percent to about $5.10. By the first day’s close, Alibaba.com had raised a near-record $1.5 billion — at the time trailing only the $1.7 billion generated by Google Inc. in 2004 for the largest IPO haul by an Internet company.
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