June 3, 2015 / 1:10 PM / 5 years ago

Alibaba to invest in China Business Network to expand finance services: China media

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest in financial media outlet China Business Network in a deal set to be announced on Thursday, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.

People ride a double bicycle past a logo of The Alibaba Group at the company's headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province November 10, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

The investment in China Business Network, part of Shanghai Media Group (SMG), will be worth more than 1 billion yuan ($161 million), said Sina.com, Sohu.com and QQ.com, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter and unnamed people at Alibaba.

Two people with knowledge of the deal, who weren’t authorised to speak to media, told Reuters an investment could be announced as soon as Thursday, but did not know the financial details.

An Alibaba spokeswoman declined comment. SMG and China Business Network were not immediately available for comment outside normal business hours.

A stake in a financial media outlet could help round out Alibaba founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma’s already extensive holdings in China’s financial industry. His aim is to build an array of online services to challenge the country’s state-owned banks and other institutions in the sector.

These holdings have been acquired through various companies of Ma’s and include Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba which operates China’s biggest online payment processing service.

Investments by Ma or his companies can send their targets’ shares skyrocketing. On Monday, Reorient Group Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed financial services provider, nearly tripled in value after a fund backed by the billionaire agreed to invest HK$2.7 billion ($348 million) for a controlling stake.

Alibaba’s investment in China Business Network would not be the first partnership between Ma and SMG in financial information services.

Last November, Ant and SMG said they would jointly invest 390 million yuan in Shanghai Gildata Inc, a subsidiary of financial software firm Hundsun Technologies Inc. Shanghai Gildata is a data services provider that competes with Thomson Reuters Corp and Bloomberg L.P.

Ma had previously invested 3.3 billion yuan to take a controlling interest in Hundsun.

Reporting by Shu Zhang in Beijing and Paul Carsten in Shanghai; Editing by Jason Subler and David Holmes

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