Nasdaq Still in the Running for Alibaba IPO

Top officials at both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq met earlier this week with executives from Alibaba in a final attempt to win the coveted listing rights as the big Chinese Internet company prepares for its initial public offering.

Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld and outgoing NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer met in Hong Kong with top officials from Alibaba on Tuesday, people at both exchanges tell the FOX Business Network. The attempt to win the Alibaba listing will be Niederauer’s last official business assignment as CEO of the NYSE. Alibaba is expected to select an exchange to list on in about a month -- later than initially indicated by the company.

Niederauer announced yesterday that he would resign in August; FBN was first to report that he would leave his job following the purchase and integration of the NYSE by ICE.

Alibaba is expected to raise about $15 billion when the deal is sold later this summer. Underwriters for the deal have been prodding Alibaba management, including co-founder Jack Ma, to select the NYSE to list its shares following several tech flubs at rival Nasdaq.

However, in recent weeks Nasdaq officials have been fighting back -- and have been gaining some ground in convincing Alibaba management to list on their exchange. Two major selling points have been resonating.

First, the Nasdaq is pitching that Chinese investors can’t buy shares of Alibaba if they are listed on the NYSE, but they can invest in Alibaba by purchasing the Guotai Nasdaq-100 exchanged-traded fund, launched last year on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Also, Nasdaq officials are touting the recent success of Chinese Internet company (NASDAQ:JD) as a selling point., a Chinese online retailer, exceeded expectations for its initial public offering this week, raising $1.78 billion and valuing the company at $25.7 billion, higher than Twitter’s (NYSE:TWTR) value at its market debut last fall.

Another contributing factor is the loss of Niederauer at the NYSE. It is unclear how committed the new management of the NYSE, run by Intercontinental Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher, is to the listing business. Sources say Sprecher is eyeing massive cuts at the exchange which will include personnel involved in listing shares on the big board.

Spokesmen for the Nasdaq and the NYSE declined to comment.

Still, people at the Nasdaq say winning the listing will not be easy given that many top investment bankers have already voiced their concerns about the Nasdaq listing given the tech problems the exchange has experienced.

Wall Street executives have advised Alibaba management that the company faces tremendous reputational risk if it selects Nasdaq and the exchange experiences a technological snafu like the one that hindered Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) IPO in May 2012. Shares of Facebook declined precipitously following its IPO and many Wall Street executives blame the taint of Nasdaq’s snafu.

Compounding matters for Nasdaq:  nearly a year later, a “combined series of technology events” caused the stock market to fully shut down for three hours.