Alibaba spends $1.05B for 20% stake in Wasu Media

Steven Loeb · April 9, 2014 · Short URL:

The deal will help Alibaba broaden the digital content on its smart TV operating system

Another week, another big investment from Alibaba.

As its U.S. IPO comes closer, the Chinese e-commerce giant seems to want to get its hands on all aspects of the Web. In just the last few weeks it has branched out to mobile messaging and to off-line retail.

Now it has its sight set on digital content.

Alibaba has agreed to pay 6.54 billion Yuan ($1.05 billion) for a 20% stake in  Chinese internet TV company Wasu Media Holding, it was reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

The stake is being sold to Hangzhou Yunxi Investment Partnership Enterprise, which is owned by former Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, along with Alibaba co-founder Simon Xie and Shi Yuzhu, the founder of Giant Interactive Group Inc.

The agreement will give Alibaba the ability to boost its online content after developing a smart TV operating system last year.

"Alibaba and Wasu Group are optimistic about the future development of China's media industry and will support each other in areas such as original content development, video communication, games, music, education, cloud computing, big data, as well as other areas of future exploration and investment in the media industry," Alibaba is quoted as saying.

This investment is its fourth in five weeks, and it is also the biggest yet. In mid-March, Alibaba spent $215 million in mobile video chat app Tango. In late March the company spent $692 million for a 25% stake in Chinese department store operator Intime.

This is also Alibaba's second investment in digital content, after it bought a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group for $804 million early last month. 

All of these investments seem to have a dual purpose: first, to diversify its holding in anticipation of its initial public offering in the United States, which it began the process toward in March.

Second, the company wants to stay ahead of the competition, most notably Tencent, the company behind WeChat, a.k.a. the country's largest mobile communications service. That company made a bold move when it took a 15% stake in online direct sales company It was move that many saw as a direct hit against e-commerce giant Alibaba.

By becoming an all-around Internet company, rather that just focusing on e-commerce, Alibaba wants to make itself as attractive as it can for investors. 

VatorNews has reached out tio Alibaba, but the company could not be reached to confirm this report. We will update if we learn more.

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Founded in September 2009, Tango is a free mobile video calling service that connects family and friends wherever they are. Tango offers high-quality video calling for iOS and Android devices and works over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. More than 10 million people in 190 countries are using Tango to communicate every day, stay connected, and share special moments as they happen. Download the Tango application for free in the App Store and Android Market. Tango is based in Palo Alto, California.