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SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N[1]) will “seriously consider” listing in Hong Kong, founder Jack Ma said, potentially providing a powerful boost to the financial hub which is preparing to allow dual-class share listings.

Ma made the comments at an event in the city on Monday in response to remarks by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam about how she hoped Alibaba would consider returning to Hong Kong to list, an Alibaba spokeswoman said.

“Daring to speak like this marks a strong commitment so we will definitely seriously consider the Hong Kong market,” Ma said in response to Lam’s speech, according to a transcript provided by Alibaba.

When asked by reporters about his comments after he met President Emmanuel Macron in Beijing on Tuesday, Ma said Alibaba was considering listing subsidiaries in Hong Kong, without elaborating. Macron is on the second leg of a three-day state visit in China.

The Alibaba spokeswoman said there were no further details available on what any Hong Kong listing plan could involve.

Alibaba held its record $25 billion public float in New York in 2014 after Hong Kong, its favored venue, refused to accept its governance structure where a self-selecting group of senior managers control the majority of board appointments.

Hong Kong is now set to allow dual-class shares under rule changes to be proposed by the city’s stock exchange as it raises the stakes in its battle against New York for blockbuster Chinese initial public offerings.

Such shares grant differentiated voting rights and underpin the alternative governance and shareholding structures favored by many owners of new age industries such as technology.

Over $3 billion worth of Alibaba shares were traded on Monday, based on Reuters calculations using NASDAQ data. The stock closed at $190.33, with 16.23 million shares traded.

That compares with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd’s (HKEX) (0388.HK[2]) average daily securities turnover of HK$88.2 billion ($11.28 billion) in 2017.

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo


Shares in HKEX, the city’s exchange operator, rose as much as 3.1 percent to HK$270 on Tuesday, their highest level since July 2015.

Analysts said that an Alibaba listing in Hong Kong could help drive more funds from the mainland towards the city and could convince other big firms, in particular technology-related ones, to list in the financial hub.

“If the trading volume in Hong Kong is even better than that in the U.S., it will send out a signal to other new economy new listings that Hong Kong is a much better place for a listing than the U.S,” said Steven Leung, sales director at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.

For Alibaba, it could provide greater access to investors closer to China who are familiar with its

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