Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Affiliate Buys Stake In Shanghai Suntime

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Chinese online retail juggernaut Alibaba has just made yet another investment. This time in a financial data provider that tracks Chinese hedge funds. Sources familiar with the matter told Financial Times that Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has acquired 20% stake in Shanghai Suntime Information Technology Co. for 250 million yuan ($38 million) in cash earlier this week.

Alibaba expanding into media and data businesses

The deal makes Ant Financial the largest shareholder in the data provider after Shanghai Suntime chairman Liao Bing. The transaction has not been publicly announced yet. The investment will give Ant Financial access to good financial products so it can attract more clients. Besides operating Alipay online payment service, Ant Financial offers wealth management services and insurance.

Ant Financial was valued at close to $60 billion in the latest funding round when it raised $4.5 billion in April this year. The Alibaba affiliate is eyeing to go public in 2017, though it is still unclear where it will be listed. Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently said he “very much hopes” Ant Financial would go public in Hong Kong. The Chinese billionaire has been diversifying rapidly into media and data businesses.

How Shanghai Suntime could help Ant Financial

Last year, the Hangzhou-based company purchased Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. It has also invested $200 million in China Business News, a financial media company. Ant Financial also controls Sesame Credit, which includes the country’s largest money market fund Yu’E Bao. Alibaba is also in talks to invest in Caixin, a business magazine publisher.

The Shanghai Suntime investment will enable Ant Financial to tap into China’s rapidly growing hedge fund industry as more wealthy businesspersons turn to private managers. Founded in 2003, Shanghai Suntime has one of the biggest databases tracking hedge funds in China. It also offers wealth management services and provides profit forecasts for listed entities.

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