The offering would be above the $19.7B that Visa raised in 2010 and could even top the world record $22.1B that Agricultural Bank of China attracted in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2010. Until now, figures of $15-16B have been bandied about for Alibaba's IPO.
Under the plan being discussed, Alibaba would sell shares in addition to its investors, which include Yahoo (YHOO). Another major shareholder, Softbank (SFTBF), is not planning to sell shares in the deal.
"Alibaba is at the point where, after the extreme growth they've had, they're going to need capital to make another huge push forward," says investment adviser Paul Boyd.