Alibaba's Jack Ma eyes South China Morning Post

By Money Times

Nov 25, 2015 08:37 PM EST

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is planning to venture into the publishing sector as news circulated that the e-commerce tycoon will be buying some stake in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. 

Although negotiation is still in early stage, it is expected that a deal could be reached soon.

The South China Morning Post is a very influential English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong, according to the New York Times.

It is still unclear whether Jack Ma will be buying the stake in the newspaper company as himself or through Alibaba.

Analysts estimated that the latest move by Jack Ma is a way for him to gain more dominance over the content of the internet. Previously, Jack Ma bought a Chinese version of YouTube, known as Youku Tudou and Sina Weibo which is twitter in China.

However, Ma is expected to take cautious move after this purchase since there might be political consequences in the acquisition since the newspaper is known for its editorial independence.

A former Beijing-based reporter, Andrew Collier said that the takeover might compromise the independence of its editorial and is seen by public as a way for the Chinese government to control freedom of journalism in Hong Kong.

Collier said that Mr. Ma needs "support from Beijing to continue his dominance of the Internet transactional world and therefore, he's going to be careful in what he does in the publishing world."  

Bloomberg reported that the move by Alibaba founder is similar to  internet investors such as Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

Bezos bought a stake in Washington Post back in 2013 in an attempt to revive the traditional newspaper as its reader keeps on falling.

Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook, also become a major shareholder for New Public Magazine which he bought in 2012.

The South China Morning Post also saw its revenue keep on dropping for the past three years according to CNN Money. Its print circulation is also dropping by the day.

The publishing company also saw its editor-in-chief, Wang Xiangwei announces that he will step down by the end of 2015 after holding the role for the past 3 years. Xiangwei will be succeeded by Tammy Tam, his current deputy.

According to a spokesperson who requested anonymity, the deal is currently making a significant progress and both parties are expected to reach an agreement in weeks ahead.

Neither Alibaba or South China Morning Post is available for comment regarding the news.

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