Jack Ma, founder of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, is in talks to buy a stake in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper, people familiar with the matter have told a major Chinese news site.
Ma has been negotiating the deal with the SCMP Group’s major shareholder the Kuok family since last year and the contract will be signed shortly, a source told Caixin, though details on the size of the stake Ma will buy and the value of the deal are still not clear.
The SCMP Group and Alibaba both declined to comment.
If the deal is agreed on, this would be another investment by Alibaba in media after its recent bid for Youku Tudou, the video sharing website seen as China’s YouTube, and financial news provider Yicai, in which Alibaba invested 1.2 billion yuan ($187.8 million) in June.
Established as an e-commerce company, Alibaba just reported record single-day online sales of $14.3 billion on Nov 11, the Cyber Monday-equivalent shopping festival that Alibaba created six years ago.
Now, with a market cap over $200 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, Alibaba’s ambition reaches far beyond e-commerce. Besides its investments in the media sector, Ma and his team have also bet on companies as varied as Chinese car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi, soccer team Guangzhou Evergrande, and financial software maker Hundsun Technologies.
Founded in 1903, the South China Morning Post is the most widely circulated English language newspaper in Hong Kong. The SCMP Group, which also contains other businesses such as magazines and printing, is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and reported net profits of HK$208.7 million ($26.9 million) in the first half of 2015.
SCMP Group’s shares have been suspended since February 2013 because it did not meet the minimum required percentage of total issued share capital available on the public market, Reuters said.
The investment would add to Alibaba and its affiliates’ growing media empire, the latest in a string of deals in news and advertising. In June, Alibaba paid $194 million for a stake in the mainland’s China Business News, Reuters reported.
Story by China Daily and Reuters.