Alibaba's Hong Kong Shares Slide 8% After Cloud Unit Spin-off Shelved


HONG KONG, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong-listed shares of Alibaba Group slumped 8% on Friday after it scrapped plans to spin off its cloud business, citing uncertainties over U.S. restrictions on chips used in artificial intelligence applications.

The stock fell to as low as HK$74.5, down 8.42%, in early trade, the first reaction in Asia since the announcement late on Thursday. The company's U.S. listed securities closed down 9%.

Alibaba, once Asia's most valuable stock, was worth around $830 billion at its peak in October 2020 but is now valued at less than one fourth, as the e-commerce giant took centre-stage in Beijing's technology sector crackdown and as the Chinese economy slowed.

Alibaba's concerns over U.S. export curbs come on the heels of similar worries raised this week by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings which said the restrictions would force it to seek domestically produced alternatives.

The news underscores broader hurdles facing China's big tech companies as the U.S. export curbs makes it harder for them to get crucial chip supplies from U.S. companies.

In March, Alibaba announced plans to carve out the cloud business as part of the biggest restructuring in its 24-year history.

Analysts had in March estimated the cloud division could be worth $41-$60 billion but had warned that its listing could attract scrutiny from both Chinese and overseas regulators due to the reams of data it manages.

The Hangzhou-based company, in announcing its quarterly earnings on Thursday, also put on hold a listing plan for its groceries business Freshippo.

Alibaba reported second-quarter revenue of 224.79 billion yuan ($31.01 billion), in line with the 224.32 billion expected by analysts, LSEG data showed.

Eddie Wu, chief executive of Alibaba, on an earnings call detailed the company's future strategy, saying that each of its businesses would face the market more independently and that they would conduct a strategic review to distinguish between "core" and "non-core" businesses.

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