Alibaba announced this morning that it has signed a definitive agreement to buy SCMP Group’s South China Morning Post and some of its other media assets. The acquisition continues the Chinese online retailer’s continual string of acquisitions and active investments. It was suggested earlier this week that BABA could spend as much as $38 billion on acquisitions just in 2016 alone.
Financial details of Alibaba’s purchase not disclosed
Today’s announcement seems like the fulfillment of a report we heard in November that BABA was close to signing a deal to buy a traditional newspaper based in Hong Kong. In a press release issued this morning, Alibaba explained that its acquisition of the South China Morning Post brings together Alibaba’s digital platform with one of the most well-known and widely read newspapers in China.
“The South China Morning Post is unique because it focuses on coverage of China in the English language,” Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in a statement. “This is a proposition that is in high demand by readers around the world who care to understand the world’s second largest economy. Our vision is to expand the SCMP’s readership globally through digital distribution and easier access to content.”
Letter from Alibaba to South China Morning Post readers
Alibaba management sent a letter to readers of the South China Morning Post explaining further why it has purchased the traditional newspaper, which has become a broader trend of late with big names like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and billionaire investor Warren Buffett snapping up newspaper in the last few years. Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, while Buffett has bought a number of smaller newspapers over the last several years.
In the letter to the Post’s readers, Tsai said they don’t see the traditional newspaper business as being on the decline. He said the challenges of running a print newspaper go well with Alibaba’s strength in the area of digital platforms.
“Media now has a global audience and the challenge is to reach it in the most efficient and reader-friendly way,” Tsai wrote. “With proven expertise in digital distribution, especially on mobile devices, BABA is in an excellent position to leverage technology to create content more efficiently and expand distribution without borders.”
Alibaba aims to grow the South China Morning Post’s international readership and make the paper “more readily available.” The retailer said the paywall on SCMP.com will also come down at some point, providing readers with free access to the content.
Alibaba also purchases other media properties
In addition to the South China Morning post, Alibaba is acquiring SCMP Group’s “recruitment, outdoor media, events & conferences, education, and digital media businesses.” In addition to the South China Morning Post, Alibaba is acquiring the Sunday Morning Post with its digital platforms, including SCMP.com and its related mobile apps, and Chinese language websites Nanzao.com and Nanzaozhinan.com.
Further, the Chinese online retailer is acquiring several popular magazines, including the Hong Kong editions of Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and The PEAK.