Taking a page from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ book, Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma is gearing up to buy Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) and its affiliated media assets for USD 266 million (HKD 2.06 billion). Mr Bezos had surprised quite a few when he bought out Washington Post for USD 250 million in 2013, and Mr Ma’s decision is creating a similar effect.
According to SCMP Group’s filing on Monday, the deal includes the newspaper, outdoor advertising, digital assets and magazines. Alibaba has already indicated some of its initial plans for the papers in terms of approaching the business and said that it will remove the internet pay wall that SCMP had followed and that “editorial decisions will be made in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom”.
Alibaba has had a busy year augmenting its offer, growing its presence by collaborations and registering growth in the year. The purchase of the SCMP, which will pose its own challenges for the ecommerce giant, will also broaden Alibaba’s media business.
According to media reports, the 112-year-old SCMP Group has recorded three years of profit declines. SCMP group will pay a special cash dividend to investors once the sale to Alibaba is completed. Shares of the company have been suspended since February 2013 after it failed to have at least 25 percent of shares held by minority investors, the minimum proportion required for a company to trade its shares in Hong Kong.