Alibaba boss Jack Ma eyes South China Morning Post acquisition


Jack Ma; picture: Bloomberg

Jack Ma, the billionaire boss of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, is looking to acquire a stake in Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Negotiations are “at an advanced stage,” according to the financial news firm, and would see one of China’s most influential businessmen take a slice of the English language broadsheet owned by Malaysia’s Kuok family, following a similar move made by Amazon’s billionaire boss Jeff Bezos, who acquired the Washington Post earlier this year.

SCMP Group’s valuation is around HK$3 billion (US$390 million), “chump change” for a man worth $29.7 billion with a business with a market value of almost $200 billion, Bloomberg reports.

When approached by Mumbrella this morning, SCMP stated: “We do not comment on market rumours”.

On the potential reasons behind Ma’s move, Bloomberg columnist Matthew Brooker speculated: “Ma has shaken up and reinvigorated businesses from retail to banking to fund management to logistics in China. After two decades of stagnation, perhaps a mixture of self-confidence and a sense of civic duty has persuaded him he can do the same for traditional print media in his adopted city.”

According to Bloomberg data, SCMP’s assets fell to 3.9 per cent last year, the lowest for more than a decade, as the newspaper – like many others in the sector – has seen circulation and ad revenue soften in recent years.

The news emerges a few weeks after reports of a staff exodus at SCMP and the appointment of a new chief editor. According to Hong Kong Free Press, at least “two dozen reporters, long-standing veterans and award-winning journalists” have left the paper in the past six months. Meanwhile, Tammy Tam is set to succeed Wang Xiangwei as the new editor-in-chief in January 2016.

SCMP made an acquisition of its own last month, moving into the e-tail business by buying e-commerce business


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