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Alibaba Buys Stake in Chinese TV Firm

This is the second M&A deal in a week for China's fast-growing e-commerce industry.

HONG KONG — Alibaba is buying a 60 percent stake in Chinese television and film production firm ChinaVision Media Group for 6.24 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $804 million, marking the second M&A deal in a week for China’s fast-growing e-commerce industry.

 

The deal, revealed Tuesday, allows Alibaba to offer entertainment content and a chance to compete with Tencent and Baidu in the digital entertainment space. In an official filing, Alibaba said it would establish a strategic committee to “explore business opportunities in online entertainment and media-related areas.” No further details were provided.

 

Earlier this week Tencent, which owns and operates social networking service WeChat, said it would buy a 15 percent stake in JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce company, behind Alibaba. The deal helps strengthen Tencent’s presence in the e-commerce market while giving JD access to Tencent’s considerable mobile and Internet user base.

 

The stakes are enormous. China’s Internet retail market reached 607.4 billion RMB, or $98.8 billion, in 2013 and is projected to reach 1.85 trillion RMB, or $301 billion, by 2018, according to data from Euromonitor. Market watchers said the recent flurry of deals come as Internet giants — primarily Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu — jockey in the growing e-commerce and digital industry.

 

Alibaba’s ChinaVision deal isn’t its first foray into video. The e-commerce company launched Ali TV in July and intends to launch a mobile gaming platform later this year. With its acquisition of TV and movie content, Alibaba aims to retain current users while attracting new ones. Tencent, which has had an 8 percent stake in ChinaVision, will see its stake reduced to 3.2 percent after the deal.

 

Alibaba has made several acquisitions over the past year ahead of an expected initial public offering in New York. Just last month, the company offered $1.13 billion to buy digital mapping company AutoNavi Holdings Ltd. Last year, Alibaba bought an 18 percent stake in Sina Corp.’s Weibo microblog. Tencent has been busy on the acquisition front as well. The company paid $448 million last year for a 36.5 percent stake in Sogou, a Chinese search engine and last month bought a 20 percent stake in Dianping, a restaurant-rating app.