Wall Street Journal Exclusive: Beijing Requests Alibaba to Dispose of Its Media Assets

Writer: Lois

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has recently ordered Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, founded by billionaire Chinese business magnate Jack Ma, to shed its media assets amidst authorities’ growing concerns regarding the company’s tremendous collection of media holdings and influence on the Chinese public opinion.

Beijing has held discussions on the issue since the beginning of the year after regulators reviewed the Hangzhou-based tech giant’s formidable list of media assets. According to several sources, the extent of Alibaba’s media interests shocked government authorities, who requested the company to devise a plan to slow the growth of its media holdings. However, the CCP has not yet specified the assets to be unloaded.

Alibaba, which mainly profits from online retail, holds an alarmingly extensive portfolio of media holdings, including broadcast, digital, print, advertising and social media. Among its most significant holdings is the Twitter-like Chinese social media platform Weibo, prominent Chinese news outlets and the South China Morning Post, a famous Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper. The tech giant also possesses holdings in U.S.-listed entities.

Officials were unable to confirm the total value of Alibaba’s media assets. However, according to a Wall Street Journal tally, the combined market value of its holdings in publicly listed companies totalled more than 8 billion USD before the U.S. stock market opening on Monday. This total includes approximately 3.5 billion USD in Weibo Corp. shares and almost 2.6 billion USD in Bilibili Inc., a video-sharing platform popular with Chinese youth.

One of Alibaba’s most major stake purchases was the South China Morning Post. The company also shares joint ventures with influential CCP-controlled media outlets such as Xinhua News Agency, as well as local government-run news companies in the provinces of Sichuan and Zhejiang.

The Wall Street Journal. (March 15, 2021). Beijing Asks Alibaba to Shed Its Media Assets.