Even before its Thursday announcement that it will list its widely anticipated initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “BABA,” Alibaba’s options for entry into some of the largest U.S. exchange traded funds were limited.
As a foreign company, Alibaba cannot be a member of the S&P 500, meaning the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY), iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: IVV) and the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: VOO) are off limits. SPY and IVV are the two largest U.S. ETFs with $163 billion and $57.8 billion in assets under management, respectively.
With the decision to list on the NYSE, Alibaba has also rendered itself ineligible for inclusion in the PowerShares QQQ (NasdaqGM: QQQ). QQQ, the NASDAQ-100 tracking ETF, is the fifth-largest U.S. ETF with $43.5 billion in AUM. Alibaba also will not be able to join the Fidelity NASDAQ Composite Index (NasdaqGM: ONEQ).
Previously, gaining access to the NASDAQ-100 was seen as a possible advantage for Alibaba. In addition to QQQ, NASDAQ OMX offers NASDAQ-100 index products in 22 countries with comparable exchange traded products available in 13 countries, including the U.S.
Had Alibaba listed on the Nasdaq, the only way investors in mainland China would have been able to access the stock is through Guotai NASDAQ-100 Exchange Traded Fund, which launched last year on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Now that option is off the table for investors on China’s mainland. [New ETF Gives Chinese Investors Access to NASDAQ-100]
In addition to spurning NASDAQ over NYSE, Alibaba’s decision to list in New York and not Hong Kong limits the number of emerging markets ETFs that can hold the stock. Both FTSE and MSCI, the index providers for the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: EEM), mandate that stocks include the indices used by those ETFs must have primary foreign listings in addition to ADRs listed in New York.