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Chinese government asks Alibaba Group to shed its media holdings

Chinese government asks Alibaba Group to shed its media holdings

The government of China has reportedly asked Alibaba Group Holdings to dispose of its media assets citing concerns over the internet giant’s hold on public opinion in the nation. While it is unclear whether the United States-listed Alibaba must sell all its media assets, approval is required from China for any plan that the company comes up with.

Established by billionaire Jack Ma in 1999, the Alibaba Group has amassed media assets that range across broadcast, print, social media, digital, and advertising. The firm has come under intense scrutiny over the past few months, during which the founder has mostly disappeared from the public eye.

Discussions regarding the disposal of media assets have been held since early January 2021, after the Chinese authorities reviewed a list of Alibaba’s media assets, whose key business is online retail.

While officials in China were alarmed at the breadth of Alibaba’s reach via its media interests, they reportedly asked the firm to devise a plan for the significant reduction of its media holdings.

According to the Alibaba Group, the purpose of the company’s investments in these firms is the provision of technology support for driving commercial synergies and business upgrade with the core commerce businesses of the company. The group further added that it does not get involved or intervene in the editorial decisions and the day-to-day operations of these firms.

It is to be noted that Alibaba has stakes in the Twitter-like Weibo platform, numerous popular Chinese print and digital news outlets, and the extensively-read English-language newspaper, SCMP (South China Morning Post) in Hong Kong. A number of these holdings are in the US-listed organizations.

Back in December 2015, Alibaba Group had inked a USD 266 million agreement for the acquisition of SCMP and other media holdings in an all-cash purchase from Robert Kuok, the Malaysian tycoon, who had been the owner of the paper since 1993.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.