CHINA TOPIX

Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Alibaba Launches Movie Company; Seeks Starring Role in China's Entertainment Sector

Jack Ma

Jack Ma

It's becoming patently clear that Alibaba Group's ambition and future vision lie increasingly outside e-commerce.

China's and the world's largest e-commerce company took its biggest step toward a future domination of Chinese media and entertainment by activating Alibaba Pictures Group, a film company registered in Hong Kong that was once named Alibaba Films Group.

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Alibaba Pictures Group joins another Alibaba acquisition, ChinaVision Media Group Ltd. Last March, Alibaba paid US$804 million for 60 percent ownership in ChinaVision, giving Alibaba access to TV and movie content throughout China.

Analysts say Alibaba could spend up to US$6.2 billion to achieve its aim of dominating entertainment in China.

In the last few weeks, Alibaba made a series of mergers and acquisitions in the media and entertainment sectors. It agreed to pay US$1.2 billion for an US$18.5 percent stake in Chinese online video giant, Youku Tudou.

Alibaba announced its intention to take 20 percent ownership of Internet TV company Wasu Media. It also established Yulebao, a film investment fund that raises capital through crowdfunding techniques. Yulebao has so far raised US$11.77 million in only five days.

Among the members of Alibaba Pictures Group's board of directors are Dong Ping and Zhao Chao, who are also directors of ChinaVision. Dong and Zhao were among the producers of last year's megahit movie, "Journey to the West."

Analysts believe part of the funding for Alibaba's media and entertainment industry ambitions will come from its US$1 billion initial public offering, which could turn out to be the biggest in history.

Financial analysts estimate the IPO could raise as much as US$15 billion, taking Alibaba's value to more than US$150 billion. That would make Alibaba the third-largest Internet company in the world.

Alibaba currently controls some 80 percent of China's e-commerce market. The group was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, an English-language teacher who is also credited with establishing China's first Internet-based company. Ma is currently executive chairman of the Alibaba Group.

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