Alibaba has filed papers to kick-start the process ahead of a public share sale that is anticipated to net the Chinese Internet mammoth some $15 billion [£8.8 billion].
Related: Alibaba IPO estimated at $110bn
The company sent documents to the US Securities and Exchange Commission outlining the share sale that stated it is seeking to raise $1 billion [£589 million] through the sale, though the exact figure is expected to reach as much as $15 billion [£8.8 billion] according to analysts.
Alibaba’s filing failed to disclose the amount of shares it will sell, the price range they will start at, or whether it plans to list the shares on the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
Jack Ma founded the ecommerce site 15 years ago and it has gone on the become the biggest online shopping site in China with reported revenues of 40.5 billion yuan [£3.8 billion] in the nine months to December 2013 with a net profit of $2.9 billion [£1.7 billion].
It’s estimated that the value of all the merchandise sold on Alibaba’s range of platforms equalled $248 billion [£146 billion] in 2013 with a total of 11.3 billion orders placed - more than that sold on both Amazon and eBay combined.
The company is also a force in the smartphone sector and boasts that it is responsible for 72 per cent of China’s mobile commerce industry, and all this has analysts excited at its prospects on a global basis.
"If it is able to transport that kind of power to outside China, it has the potential to become a true global e-commerce powerhouse," said Roger Entner, lead analyst and founder of Recon Analytics, told the BBC.
Yahoo, which owns a 22.6 per cent stake, and Softbank, which has a 34 per cent piece of the pie, will be two of the main beneficiaries of the share sale, and it’s expected that the SEC filing is the first step in a long process that will take several months.