Alibaba Delivers on Biggest U.S. IPO with $21.8 Billion Offering

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will price its shares at $68 a piece, topping its initial expected range, and raising a total of $21.8 billion to make it the biggest U.S. initial public offering ever.

The stock sale places the company in the ranks of the most valuable Internet companies with a market capitalization of $168 billion, exceeding industry standard bearers like Amazon  YHOO -1.19%  and Twitter  TWTR 0.36% . It also puts an exclamation point on China’s rapid rise in the technology industry and its growing ambitions overseas including in the United States.

The Hangzhou, China-based company will being trading on the new York Stock Exchange under the ticker BABA on Friday. The stock is expected to debut at around 11 a.m. ET.

Alibaba, essentially China’s version of eBay, had initially expected its shares to sell for $60 to $66 in the IPO. But earlier this week, following strong investor demand, it raised the high-end of its expected price range to $68.

Visa previously held the title as the biggest U.S. IPO at $17.9 billion. But Alibaba fell just short of becoming the biggest offering worldwide. That record is held by Agricultural Bank of China, which raised $24.3 billion when it went public in Hong Kong in 2010.

At its offering price, Alibaba’s market value of $168 billion makes it the highest-valued internet company at the time of its public debut. Facebook  FB 0.75%  was worth $104 billion when it IPO-ed in 2012, and Google  GOOG 0.77%  was valued at $23 billion in 2004.

Alibaba was co-founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, a former English teacher who has become one of China’s best-known businessmen. The company started as an online marketplace for businesses to sell products to one another but quickly expanded into consumer sales and online payments. Alibaba is now a global hub for selling everything from electronic parts to engines to stuffed animals. It also has a growing portfolio of U.S. investments including ShopRunner, an online delivery service, and ride-hailing app Lyft.

Alibaba is keeping nearly $8.3 billion of the IPO proceeds. A long list of insiders and early investors are also cashing out including Ma, who will make around $900 million, and Yahoo, which sold about a quarter of its stake for more than $8 billion.

Alibaba enters the market during a stellar year for technology stocks. The Dow Jones Internet Composite Index is up 15.6% over the past 12 months compared to a 9.9% rise for the overall Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Investors are hoping Alibaba can continue to ride this wave to even higher stock gains after its debut.

Alibaba’s offer was managed by Credit Suisse  CS 2.02% , Deutsche Bank  DB 2.33% , Goldman Sachs  GS 1.66% , JPMorgan  JPM 1.67% , Morgan Stanley  MS 1.60%  and Citi  C 2.42% .