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Alibaba Investment Expands Finance Footprint

Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba will announce an investment in financial media company China Business Network in a deal that could be announced as soon as today (June 4) reported Reuters, citing Chinese media.

That investment could be worth as much as 1 billion yuan, or $161 million, Reuters said, citing that each of the sites Sina.com, Sohu.com and QQ.com all quoted unnamed sources, including several from Alibaba. Neither company commented to Reuters.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the stake could be as high as $200 million, which would represent roughly 30 percent ownership of the business news company, which is planning to launch a joint incubator for media startups.

Alibaba’s move to take ownership of at least some of a financial media business may help “round out” Alibaba chief Jack Ma’s ties to the nation’s financial industry, Reuters noted. The newswire said that Ma seeks to create a platform of online services with the intention of challenging traditional members of Chinese state-owned and run financial sector, including banks. Ma has often used Alibaba or its affiliates to take stakes in financial services companies.

At the end of last year, Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate, and SMG announced a joint 390 million yuan stake in Shanghai Gildata Inc. Shanghai Gildata — a competitor to financial data publishers including Thomson Reuters — is in turn a subsidiary of Hundsun Technologies, which makes financial software.

Outside of China, Alibaba’s Ma has been busy expanding beyond financial services. Past deals abroad have included interests in a New York retailer, an Israel-based computer code developer, and even film production operations. Those investments are far-ranging both geographically and in terms of business lines, and may get lost in the shuffle amid headlines such as the company’s backing in SnapChat, which had been rumored to have been as high as $200 million, and messaging apps that include Lyft and Tango.

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