Alibaba Group has reportedly acquired a 20% stake in Wasu Media Holding Co worth about US$1 billion.
Shenzhen-listed Wasu Media said on March 4 that it would suspend trading on the local stock market as it planned to adjust a private placement scheme. A spokesperson for Alibaba offered no comment in response to the market speculation. A Wasu spokesperson said the suspension is because the firm intends to introduce a strategic investor, declining to elaborate further.
The two companies have previously been partners in a joint venture, having jointly invested 100 million yuan (US$16.5 million) in a TV shopping venture. In 2011, Alibaba bought back Wasu’s stake in the joint venture for 28 million yuan (US$4.6 million).
Alibaba unveiled its smart TV operation system last year, including box and smart TV, in which the box was jointly developed by Alibaba and Wasu, while the smart TV was developed by various partners including leading consumer electrical goods maker Haier Group.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is working to a four-year plan to enter the cable TV network sector in three stages: First is to set up a TV shopping network, the second is to establish an ecosystem by cooperating with partners to develop an alliance for smart TVs. Now the plan has entered the third stage, focusing on mergers and acquisitions to quickly complete the layout ahead of its competitors, the report said.
Alibaba is seeking to dominate the family internet market, the third network after the PC and mobile internet markets. Since smart TV is still an undeveloped market for network shopping, it will be the key focus for Alibaba’s expansion. As the smart TV is still an undeveloped market for network shopping, it will be the key focus for Alibaba’s expansion.