Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba still is not a public company, but as is often the case with the most widely anticipated initial public offerings, and Alibaba certainly fits that bill, there is plenty of speculation about where the company will list its shares.
That is a two-part question with Alibaba. As in will the company list its shares in the U.S., London or Hong Kong? And if it opts for the U.S., will it choose the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange?
As the two exchange operators always do, they are currently jostling for Alibaba’s affections, but when it comes to index products, including exchange traded funds, NASDAQ OMX might have an advantage or two over its rival.
For example, since Alibaba is not a U.S. company, it will not be eligible for inclusion in the S&P 500. The NASDAQ-100, tracked by the PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ), allows for the inclusion of foreign companies. Hence Baidu (NasdaqGS: BIDU), China’s largest Internet search provider, is a member of QQQ, but not the S&P 500 although the company easily meets the market cap criteria to be an S&P 500 constituent.
Opting for a Nasdaq listing would also make Alibaba eligible for inclusion in the Fidelity NASDAQ Composite Index (NasdaqGM: ONEQ). Alibaba could join ONEQ in a matter of days following its IPO, but it would be several months before the stock could enter the NASDAQ-100 and QQQ. In a hypothetical example, if Alibaba goes public on the Nasdaq on June 15, it would be eligible to enter the NASDAQ-100 on Oct. 1. [ETFs for the Next Wave of China Internet IPOs]
Still, gaining access to the NASDAQ-100 could be an advantage for Alibaba. Not only is QQQ one of the largest U.S. ETFs of any stripe with $40.6 billion in assets as of May 5, NASDAQ OMX offers NASDAQ-100 index products in 22 countries with comparable exchange traded products available in 13 countries, including the U.S.
In fact, if Alibaba lists in the U.S. and on the Nasdaq, the only way investors in mainland China will be able to access the stock is through Guotai NASDAQ-100 Exchange Traded Fund, which launched last year on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. [New ETF Gives Chinese Investors Access to NASDAQ-100]