Alibaba’s Big Investment Push Adds South China Morning Post

Alibaba’s year of investments has been capped off with the acquisition of the South China Morning Post, along with other media assets of its company.

With Alibaba’s special attention and expertise in advancing mobile platforms, this latest buy positions it further to be involved in the coverage of where China fits into the overall global economy.

“The South China Morning Post is unique because it focuses on coverage of China in the English language. This is a proposition that is in high demand by readers around the world who care to understand the world’s second largest economy,” said Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group. “Our vision is to expand the SCMP’s readership globally through digital distribution and easier access to content.”

Besides the South China Morning Post newspaper, the agreement includes the acquisition of the magazine, recruitment, outdoor media, events and conferences, education and digital media businesses of SCMP Group Limited. Besides the broadsheet, other SCMP titles include the Sunday Morning Post, its digital platforms and related mobile apps, and the two Chinese websites and The acquisition also includes a portfolio of magazine titles including the Hong Kong editions of Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The PEAK and Harper’s Bazaar.

“With proven expertise especially in mobile Internet, Alibaba is in an excellent position to leverage technology to create content more efficiently and reach a global audience,” said Robin Hu, Chief Executive Officer of SCMP. “We welcome Alibaba’s commitment to invest additional resources in its editorial and business operations to make the SCMP even stronger.”

In a letter to readers, Tsai also addressed concerns about how Alibaba’s ownership would influence its editorial independence: “Some have suggested that ownership by Alibaba will compromise the SCMP’s editorial independence. This criticism reflects a bias of its own, as if to say newspaper owners must espouse certain views, while those that hold opposing views are ‘unfit.’ We think the world needs a plurality of views when it comes to China coverage. China’s rise as an economic power and its importance to world stability is too important for there to be a singular thesis.”

A VentureBeat report about Alibaba’s investments and acquisitions shows that Alibaba could conduct at least $38 billion in deals, bases on data from a BNP Paribas SA analyst. That’s quite a big jump from 2015’s spending of $15 billion.

This investment/acquisition push may be to pit it further against Tencent and Baidu, who have the capacity to spend $35 billion and $15 billion in 2016, respectively. All three of the Internet giants are investing heavily in the O2O space, VentureBeat noted.