No change in Alibaba’s ownership of SCMP despite rumors of potential state-backed acquisition

The South China Morning Post will not be sold by Alibaba despite an earlier Bloomberg report that a Chinese government-owned company was considering purchasing the English-language newspaper. In a Reuters report, he cited an internal letter SCMP sent to its staff, saying that Joe Tsai, Alibaba co-founder and chairman of SCMP, had asked SCMP CEO Gary Liu to deliver a message according to which the tech company had no intention of changing ownership. Tsai said there had never been any discussion of SCMP ownership and that Alibaba did not plan any changes. “There is no basis for rumor or speculation.”

Previously, Bloomberg reported that Bauhinia Culture (Hong Kong) Holdings, a Chinese government-owned company established in 2019, was working on an offer to acquire the newspaper established in 1903. The report also indicated that other entities backed by the company ‘State could also seek to acquire SCMP.

INTERACTIVE-MARKETING has contacted SCMP for further comments.

Alibaba acquired SCMP in 2015 for $ 266 million, but in March 2021, the Chinese government asked Alibaba to sell its media assets, including SCMP. According to The Wall Street Journal who cited his sources, the move came as Chinese officials grew concerned about Alibaba’s influence on public opinion in China. Discussions about the potential divestiture of its media assets by Alibaba have been held since early this year following a review of the e-commerce giant’s media assets.

WSJ added that “officials were appalled” by the scale of its media interests and reportedly asked Alibaba to come up with a plan to “reduce it considerably”.

The acquisition covered the daily newspaper as well as a stable of magazines including Harper’s Bazaar and The top, recruiting services, outside media, events, education and digital media companies. He also bought an approximately 18% stake in Sina Weibo for US $ 586 million in 2013, multiple media outlets, including Bloomberg, reported.

Alibaba and its co-founder Jack Ma have been under intense scrutiny since late 2020, after Ma suffered the wrath of Chinese regulators last October, causing Ant Group’s IPO to be abruptly suspended last November. . Ma said in a speech that traditional banks should move away from their “pawnbroker operating model” and questioned whether international financial regulations are suited to the Chinese economy.

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