Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Joins Group Seeking To Take Momo Private

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Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba has joined the executive group-led buyout of dating app Momo. The Beijing-based company’s US-listed shares skyrocketed more than 34% to $16.10 on Wednesday after it disclosed in a regulatory filing that Alibaba’s financial affiliates had joined the group seeking to take Momo private. The company went public in December 2014, raising $248 million.

Money no longer a problem for Momo

Just six months after the company’s IPO, Momo chairman and CEO Yan Tang announced that he, along with other company executives, was planning to take it private. In February, the dating platform had named Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai to its board. The Investment Technology Group analyst Henry Guo told Bloomberg that with Alibaba backing the buyout, money is no longer a problem.

Alibaba Investment and Rich Moon, which is majority owned by the Hangzhou-based company’s PE fund Yunfeng Capital, are the latest members to back Momo’s buyout. The executive group has also extended the deadline for the buyout to April 5, 2017. According to the SEC filing, the group backing the buyout controls 91.6% of the voting power and 72.6% of Momo’s shares. The consortium also includes Sequoia Capital China and Matrix Partners China.

Alibaba may also go for Weibo buyout

At the time of the dating platform’s IPO, Alibaba’s affiliates held close to 21% equity in the company. Yan Tang has offered to take Momo private by paying $18.90 per share, valuing it at roughly $3 billion. Analysts estimate that after Momo’s buyout, Alibaba may shift its focus to Weibo. Juan Lin of 86Research said Weibo fits into Alibaba’s media strategy. The Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant holds an equity in Weibo.

Alibaba has been investing aggressively in media businesses. In the last 12 months, more than 40 US-listed Chinese companies have proposed to go private, but only 7 of them have completed the process so far. Last month, Qihoo shareholders approved the company’s $9.3 billion privatization plan. Most of them are aiming for a domestic IPO at a higher valuation.

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