Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) founder and billionaire, Jack Ma, is looking to expand his holdings in the media sector. His online finance firm, Ant Financial, is in discussions with Caixin to acquire a stake. Though the reports do not indicate any possible amount of holdings, if the Chinese firm managed to buy a stake it would be the second investment in the media segment in the last few years.
Poised To Conclude Discussions
Though Caixin did not name Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s specifically, it did indicate that it was talking to a group of unnamed investors. It was on the verge of completing the discussions and that such investments from the potential investors would not compromise with its independent functioning including their editorial independence. The media firm would introduce several quality investors and was hopeful that the new investors would accept its internal firewall to safeguard its credibility.
Reports suggested that the Chinese e-commerce firm founder was assured a seat on Caixin’s board though Ant Financial refused to confirm it. The investment by Jack Ma would come under scrutiny since ulterior motives may be to utilize the media company in order to influence the Chinese Government.
Accused Of Interfering
In December, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) acquired South China Morning Post for $266 million. At that point in time, the Chinese online firm was accused of interfering editorially following the disclosure of its executive vice chairman, Joe Tsai, that the paper was an alternative to Western coverage of the country. He considered the Western coverage as biased and negative.
As far as Caixin was concerned, most employees attributed to its chief editor, Hu Shuli, for the fierce independence of Caixin. Shuli was also a founder of Caijing magazine in 1998 before the start of publishing Caixin in 2010. A person, who is close to the sources of the current discussions, told the media that Shuli was a forceful leader and that she could maintain the journalistic standards.