HONG KONG Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will hold the kickoff meeting for its planned U.S. initial public offering on March 25, setting in motion the most high-profile listing since Facebook Inc's offering nearly two years ago, sources familiar with the plans said on Tuesday.
The company, whose platforms handle more goods than EBay Inc (EBAY.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) combined, will meet with the six main banks arranging the deal, as well as lawyers and other professionals working on the IPO.
In the meeting in Hong Kong, Alibaba will discuss their roles and outline plans for the listing, added the sources, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Alibaba said on Sunday it decided to hold its long-awaited IPO in the United States. It is in discussions with Citigroup (C.N), Credit Suisse CSGN.VX, Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N), J.P. Morgan (JPM.N), and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) for lead underwriting roles.
A separate roster of banks to take on second-tier positions on the deal is also expected to be unveiled on Tuesday, one source added.
The listing will be closely watched by Alibaba's two largest shareholders - Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O), which owns 24 percent, and Japan's Softbank Corp (9984.T), which controls 37 percent. Alibaba's founders and some senior managers jointly own about 13 percent of the company.
Alibaba declined to comment on the IPO kickoff meeting.
(Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Denny Thomas and Ryan Woo)