Alibaba increased its share repurchase program to $25 billion on Tuesday, the e-commerce giant’s largest-ever repurchase plan, to shore up its bruised stock as it battles regulatory scrutiny and fears about slowing growth.
Alibaba’s stock, which had more than halved in the previous year, soared on the announcement, closing up 11%. In premarket trading, its stock (9988.HK) on the New York Stock Exchange surged 9%.
The plan comes after Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said that Beijing will roll out more measures to boost the economy, as well as favorable policy steps for capital markets, in the last few days, sparking a tech stock rally.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has increased its stock buyback program for the second time in a year. Last August, it increased the program’s budget from $10 billion to $15 billion.
Toby Xu, Alibaba’s Deputy Chief Financial Officer, said, “The increased share buyback reflects our confidence in Alibaba’s long-term, sustainable growth potential and wealth creation.”
“Given our strong financial health and expansion goals, Alibaba’s stock price does not appropriately reflect the company’s value.”
Alibaba’s buyback move makes sense, according to Rukim Kuang, founder of Beijing-based Lens Company Research, because Beijing’s anti-monopolistic and “disorderly expansion of capital” actions will limit Alibaba’s opportunities for fresh investments.
“In the future, internet behemoths will begin to refocus on their core business. As a result, corporations like Alibaba don’t need to hold such big sums of money on their books “Added he.
Alibaba stated that as of the end of December, it had $75 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments.
Since late 2020, when its billionaire founder, Jack Ma, publicly criticized China’s regulatory structure, the business has been under fire.
Following that, authorities stopped Alibaba’s planned blockbuster IPO of its banking unit Ant Group and slammed the company with a record $2.8 billion punishment for anti-competitive behavior, causing its stock to plummet.
Its performance has also been harmed by increasing rivalry from rivals, slowed consumption, and a developing e-commerce market.
Alibaba’s most recent earnings report showed sales growth of 10% year over year, its poorest quarter since coming public in 2014 and the first time growth fell below 20%.
According to Reuters, the corporation is planning to lay off tens of thousands of employees.
Alibaba reported that as of March 18, it had repurchased nearly $9.2 billion of its U.S.-listed shares as part of a previously announced program that was set to extend until the end of the year.
The current $25 billion program will last for two years, from March 2024 to March 2025.
Alibaba named Weijian Shan, the executive chairman of investment firm PAG, to its board of directors as an independent director, and announced that Borje Ekholm, the CEO of Ericsson (ERICb.ST), will step down on March 31.