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Not an easy company by any stretch. British Virgin Islands registered and extremely hard to unwrap ultimate ownership even.



Alibaba is much more transparent than say Huawei. Alibaba is even publicly traded on an American exchange, so its ownership is much more clear.


It's illegal for foreigners to own a Chinese company. A shell company based in the Caribbean is publicly traded. It owns no assets.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/beware-the-pitfalls-of-the-...


It is not illegal for foreigners to own part of Chinese companies. It's generally illegal for a single foreign entity to own a controlling interest. Softbank and Yahoo invested into Alibaba relatively early on. It was incorporated in China. Their positions represented the majority of shares in the business, just not individually.


> It's generally illegal for a single foreign entity to own a controlling interest.

This is also not true. China, like all developing economies that have reached the global stage, allows WFOEs and FICEs [1]. There's significant taxes involved but these taxes are being decreased all the time .

(It's quite remarkable the stuff people believe about doing business in China. Really have to wonder where these ideas come from.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wholly_Foreign-Owned_Enterpris...


There are severe restrictions on WFOEs. For all practical purposes they're useless for running a domestic tech business.

Really recommend this write up on VIEs and Alibaba: https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/conferences/2017-imo/Documents/M...




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