Alibaba Executives Announce Plan to Sell Up to 21.5 Million Shares

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In a filing Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma and Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai announced plans under which Ma may sell up to 16.0 million shares in company stock and Tsai may sell up to 5.5 million shares over the next 12 months.

The prearranged sales plans were adopted in compliance with SEC Rule 10b5-1. At last night’s closing price of $178.97 per share, the two sales would fetch some $3.85 billion. Alibaba’s share price has doubled since touching a low of $86.01 last December.

According to the filing:

Rule 10b5-1 allows corporate officers and directors to adopt written, pre-arranged stock trading plans to meet commitments and wealth planning requirements, spreading stock trades out over an extended period of time to reduce any market impact and avoid concerns about whether they had material, non-public information.

The 16 million shares that Ma has filed to sell represent 9% of his beneficial ownership in Alibaba, and Tsai’s 5.5 million shares comprise about 8% of his ownership stake. The sales plans have been established “for ordinary wealth planning purposes and to meet philanthropic commitments” according to the filing.

Alibaba shares dropped about 0.5% in Wednesday’s after-hours session and traded down about 1.0% in Thursday’s premarket session at $177.08. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $86.01 to $179.10, a new high posted Wednesday. The consensus 12-month price target is $195.96.