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Alibaba Drop Leaves Stock Pennies Above IPO Price

China's woes weigh on its largest e-commerce company.

Shares of Alibaba Group fell 3 percent on Friday and were perilously close to breaking below the price set in the largest IPO in history as fears of a China-led global slowdown rattled investors.

A potential move below $68 would make China’s largest e-commerce firm the second high-profile tech company to fall below its IPO price this week after Twitter on Thursday dropped below its 2013 IPO price.

It would also be a potential embarrassment to founder Jack Ma and the underwriters who engineered Alibaba’s market debut last September.

With Wall Street in correction territory on Friday, Alibaba’s stock closed down $2.14 at a post-IPO record low of $68.18.

Alibaba shares have been under pressure for weeks as investors fretting about a slowdown in the world’s No. 2 economy rush to cut their exposure to China.

Its $25 billion share listing was the largest ever on the New York Stock Exchange and netted underwriters more than $300 million. But Ma, who founded the company in his apartment in 1999, has failed to deliver on Wall Street’s lofty expectations.

The underwhelming stock performances from Alibaba and Twitter are being seen as a warning to investors enthralled in the hype surrounding mega-IPOs.

Alibaba last week posted its slowest revenue growth in more than three years as its strategy to shift more services to mobile devices hurt advertising sales.

Adding to investor concerns, China last week devalued its currency, guiding the yuan to its lowest point in almost three years.

Alibaba also faces a big lock-up expiration next month when large investors, including Japan’s SoftBank, and certain employees will be allowed to sell stock.

Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley acted as joint bookrunners of Alibaba’s IPO.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; editing by Linda Stern and G Crosse)

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