Three PR firms assist Alibaba with IPO comms

Sard Verbinnen & Co., Brunswick Group, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies are supporting Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba on communications as it prepares to file a prospectus as early as Monday for its highly anticipated IPO.

Alibaba Group executive chair Jack Ma
Alibaba Group executive chair Jack Ma

SAN FRANCISCO: Sard Verbinnen & Co., Brunswick Group, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies are supporting Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba on communications as it prepares to file a prospectus as early as Monday for its highly anticipated IPO.

Ashley Zandy, Alibaba’s associate director of international corporate affairs, confirmed the company’s relationship with the three firms, but declined to comment on the communications strategy for the public offering. Zandy joined Alibaba from Facebook last September.

Brunswick, which has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore, was brought on in the last two months to work with the e-commerce company. In March, the firm assisted Alibaba as it invested $692 million in Chinese department-store operator Intime Retail Group.

Sard Verbinnen has worked with Alibaba in the US since 2008. H+K has assisted the company in Hong Kong with local media relations for the IPO, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Representatives from Sard Verbinnen and Brunswick declined to comment, while a spokesperson from Hill+Knowlton deferred comment to Alibaba.

Alibaba’s expected IPO, which analysts have said could fetch a valuation of well more than $130 billion, has been billed as potentially the largest since Facebook went public in May 2012.

Last month, as part of its efforts to become a "more global company," Alibaba said it would spend $215 million on a stake in mobile messaging app Tango.

Shift Communications, Tango’s AOR since last March, is helping the company with comms for the transaction, an agency representative confirmed.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, Alibaba reported $1.4 billion in profit, doubling the amount it made during the same period in 2012. The company also saw a 66% increase in revenue in the period, year-over-year, to $3.1 billion.

Yahoo, which owns 24% of the Chinese e-commerce giant, revealed Alibaba’s financials on Tuesday as part of its own earnings call.

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