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商业 - 科技

阿里巴巴IPO背后的华尔街神话故事

Shawn Tully 2014年09月12日

首发上市当天股价大涨只会让华尔街赚个盆满钵满。这样的情节就要在阿里巴巴身上再次上演……

    我有一位朋友是一只大型基金的经理人,让我们姑且称他为奥斯卡。最近,奥斯卡给我讲述了上市当天股价大幅上涨会是多么的让人激动。几年前,在从洛杉矶飞往纽约的飞机上,奥斯卡和一家加州公司的CFO隔着通道相邻而坐,后者的公司刚刚首发上市。这位CFO洋洋得意地说:“这真是妙极了!”随着一杯又一杯的金汤力鸡尾酒下肚,他的声音越来越大:“上市头一天我们的股票就涨了30%!那可是数千万美元!”下飞机时,奥斯卡对这位已经步履蹒跚的CFO说:“如果你们把这几千万留为己用而不是给了别人,你们公司的价值不就会高很多吗?”听了这句话,后者突然陷入沉思,就好像他从未听到过这样的说法——不过,估计过不了多久他就会继续兴高采烈地痛饮一番。

    现在,这个上市首日股价飙升的迷人咒语似乎要施加在阿里巴巴身上了——这家公司很快就会以BABA为代码在纽约上市。首发路演现已全面展开,而且据报道,阿里巴巴备受机构投资者追捧。媒体报道称,寄望一夜暴富的大型基金经理人的申购数量已经远远超过阿里巴巴的发行规模,申购价格介于每股60-66美元。阿里巴巴将在9月18日定价,而第二天,这只备受期待的股票就会登上纽约证交所的舞台。

    阿里巴巴的股票供不应求,而且需求仍在增长——这种局面看来很可能像往常一样产生一种效果,那就是上市第一天股价大涨。这样的行情是华尔街的胜利时刻之一。在英语里,用“Pop”这个词来形容股价上涨会让人联想到一瓶瓶香槟开启时的砰砰声——这是市场繁荣的迹象。如果你相信华尔街的说法,也可以认为它就是IPO大获成功的标志。

    但实际上,首日暴涨说明承销商定的发行价过低,远低于机构投资者愿意接受的价格。这种情况下,主要的受益者是名号最响的华尔街投行以及向它们支付佣金的客户;受损失的则是上市公司,因为如果按市场价格首发,它筹集到的资金就会多得多。引人注意的是,如此之多的好公司都主动把数以十亿计的美元作为“小费留在了餐桌上”。而且,如此之多的本该经验老道的企业家都被这种现象蒙蔽了双眼,这真是不可思议。特别要说的是,华尔街在解释这一切时所用的依据简直站不住脚——那些穿着条纹西装的投行人士说,首发当天股价飙升会让刚刚上市的公司获得大量“人气”,从而吸引一批忠实的投资者。

    而实际上,这只会在首发当晚把一批投行人士吸引到Peter Luger牛排餐厅庆祝一番。

    新上市的成功公司并不全都是在首发当天大幅上涨。Facebook上市之初股价下跌的情况众所周知,这表明该公司在2012年IPO时筹集的资金超过了它本身的价值。当然,说到底阿里巴巴的股价不一定会在这一天飙升。但听了这可能是科技行业有史以来最大规模首发的宣传之后,谁都能感觉到这一定是华尔街人士希望出现这样的局面。如果真是这样的话,从阿里巴巴手中溜走的资金,或者说华尔街所赚取的利润,将达到前所未有的水平。

    A friend who’s a major money manager—call him Oscar—recently related a story about just how intoxicating a big-pop IPO can be. On a flight from LA to New York a few years ago, Oscar was seated across the aisle from the CFO of a California company that had just gone public. “It was fantastic!” crowed the executive, his volume rising as he downed one gin and tonic after another. “Our stock jumped 30% the first day! That’s tens of millions of dollars!” As they deplaned, Oscar remarked to the stumbling CFO, “Wouldn’t your company be worth a lot more if you’d put those tens of millions in your treasury, instead of giving that money away?” The CFO suddenly turned reflective, as if he’d never heard of that idea—though it’s unlikely the facts stopped his binge of self-congratulation for long.

    It now appears that BIG POP is working its intoxicating spell on Alibaba—soon to trade under the ticker. The road show for its forthcoming IPO is now in full swing, and its shares are reportedly proving a huge hit with institutional investors. Big fund managers, anticipating an overnight windfall, are reportedly requesting far more shares for their portfolios than Alibaba is selling at a price somewhere between $60 and $66 a share—the exact number will be determined on September 18, on the eve of its eagerly awaited debut.

    What appears to be growing excess demand for Alibaba stock is likely to cause what it always causes: a steep rise in the share price in the first days of trading. That pop is one of Wall Street’s prized events. The term evokes images of exploding champagne corks, a sign of flush times in the markets—and if you believe what Wall Street is selling, the hallmark of a successful IPO.

    In reality, a big first-day pop means that the underwriters have sold the shares too cheaply, at far below the price those institutional buyers were really willing to pay. The major beneficiaries are the famous Wall Street names and their commission-paying clients; the loser is the company that raises far less cash than if its shares had sold at market prices. What’s remarkable is that so many great companies voluntarily leave so many billions “on the table.” And it’s amazing how many supposedly sophisticated entrepreneurs are conned by the prospect. Especially since Wall Street has only the weakest rationale for selling it: Pin-striped bankers promise that those first-day price surges will make for great “publicity” for the newbie companies, and attract a coterie of loyal investors.

    In reality, the only coterie it’s likely to attract is the crowd of celebrating bankers that night at Peter Luger’s.

    Successful newly public companies don’t always start with a pop. Facebook’s shares famously dropped in early trading, meaning it raised more cash than it deserved at its 2012 debut. And it’s not certain that Alibaba’s shares will pop at all, once all is said and done. But to hear the hype surrounding what is likely to be the biggest IPO in tech history, it sure likes like Wall Streeters expect it to. Should that be the case, the amount of money Alibaba could forgo—and the size of the prize for Wall Street—are unprecedented.

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