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Alibaba in Context

*Learn about the role Ipreo played in taking Alibaba to market.*

On Thursday, it will finally arrive. The most anticipated IPO of 2014 is almost here, and it looks like it may actually live up to the hype.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is set to go public at the end of this week, after a ten-day roadshow that will have seen two teams of senior executives attend 100 meetings in the U.S., the Middle East, and Asia.

What can you expect?

If Alibaba’s IPO prices at the middle of its filed range, it will take home $23B in the largest IPO of all time, more than ten times larger than this year’s previous biggest debut, Ally Financial, which delivered just north of $2B and currently stands as the 20th biggest debut since 2001.

Even should the IPO open at all-time levels, perhaps we should temper our expectations a bit, at least when it comes to post-issuance performance. After all, only two of the top 10 Chinese-Domiciled IPOs launched on the US Exchanges since 2001 have increased their value in the months/years after their debuts, and the eight others saw their value decrease significantly.

Regardless, anticipation for this IPO is at a fever pitch, and should the pricing estimates bear out, it will be larger than the debuts of Facebook, GM and Visa combined.

Alibaba’s investors may be in for one heck of a magic carpet ride.

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