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11/6/2007
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China's Alibaba IPO Raises $1.5 Billion But Cisco And Yahoo Strike It Rich

The stock performance is the largest high tech offering since Google went public in 2004, yet it remains off limits to U.S. investors until December.

Chinese Internet company Alibaba.com saw its shares triple on Tuesday after its initial public offering rocketed 192% on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Alibaba.com sold 858.9 million IPO shares, or 17% of its enlarged share capital, in a deal handled by Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. The stock performance raised $1.5 billion in the largest high tech offering since Google went public in 2004.

Founded in 1999 as a bulletin board for businesses leads, the Web site connects companies looking to import and export Chinese goods. The company said recently that at the end of June its online marketplaces had more than 24 million members.

But it was the company's American investors such as Yahoo and Cisco really strike it rich with their large investments in Alibaba.

"We are leaving money on (the) table to share with others," said Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, according the media reports.

For example, Yahoo owns a 1.2% stake in Alibaba.com, as well as a 39% stake in Alibaba.com's parent firm. Other high-tech investors include Cisco Systems and Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Just last week, Cisco Systems' chief executive John Chambers journeyed to China to announce a series of joint ventures and investments including a a $17.5 million investment in the leading Chinese Internet company.

Cisco seems to have a knack for ferreting out hot tech companies and investing in them before their IPOs. In July Cisco invested $150 million in VMware practically on the eve of its IPO. VMware's stock has surged more than 300% since the company's IPO.

Brokerage firms report that their customers have been hounding them to buy Alibaba shares, but an old U.S. Securities and Exchange regulation outlaws individual U.S. investors from buying the foreign company's shares until December.

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