Alibaba's Ant Financial Said to Invest 3 Million USD In Caixin Media
摘要： Ant Financial, the finance arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has entered into a strategic investment contract with Caixin Media, one of the most respected financial and business media in China, and vowed to invest 20 million RMB (around 3 million USD) in it.
Yesterday morning(March, 2nd), we TMTpost released our exclusive report（in Chinese, revealing that Ant Financial, the finance arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has entered into a strategic investment contract with Caixin Media, one of the most respected financial and business media in China, and vowed to invest 20 million RMB (around 3 million USD) in it during its C-round of financing, according to various reliable sources.
As a matter of fact, rumor has it that Ant Financial is to invest in Caixin Media as early as the latter half of 2015, thus it didn’t take too much time for Caxin Media and Ant Financial to settle on the details and signed the contract now.
We are also told that Ant Financial failed to join the Board of Caixin.
Hu Shuli, the editor-in-chief of Caixin media, has always been regarded as the representative figure in the Chinese media circle. Under Ms. Hu’s leadership, Caixin Media is also known for its in-depth and bold investigative reports.
In 2011, Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, was publicly criticized by Ms. Hu over his handling of the transfer of Alipay, Alibaba’s e-payment tool. The bold investigative report of Caixin Media over the event was quite impressive at that time, and a debate between her and Jack Ma went viral on the Internet.
Over the course of last year, Ant Financial has already cooperated with various media agencies and organizations. For example, it teamed up with Fudan University and set up a scholarship to award journalists with high-quality financial and business news reports, report as well as media agencies. As of 2015, reports from Watching, co-established by Alibaba and Caixin Media, as well as Caixin Media were all included in the list of award winners.
In recent years, Alibaba and its affiliates have moved aggressively into the media sector and invested in dozens of Chinese media groups and newspapers, including China Business News, BOYA Media Group (owns several magazines, including Blog Weekly, Economic Weekly and Portrait), South China Post, Beijing Youth Daily and co-founded several social-media platforms, such as The Cover, together with Western China Metropolis Daily, and Watching, together with Caixin Magazine, etc.
Besides that, Alibaba Group has also invested in almost half of all the major tech media in China, such as 36Kr, Lieyun, Huxiu, Global Sources, Pingwest, GeekPark, etc. An insider revealed that Alibaba was under negotiation with CTOCIO.com over a possible investment plan.
In addition, we are also told that Alibaba is going to establish Alibaba Media Group based on two e-commerce magazines: "tao" and "Global E-Businessmen"， co-funded by Alibaba and Zhejiang stated media Groups. We still don’t know what other businesses will be integrated into this Alibaba’s own Media Group yet, but we can say for sure that the film, TV series and entertainment won’t be part of this new Media Group's businesses.
Moreover, Alibaba has also invested in Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter), one of the most popular social networking platforms in China, and acquired Chinese streaming giant Youku Tudou. Gradually, Alibaba Group has already marked its existence in the entire Chinese media world.
Naturally, many might worry if Alibaba’s investment in Caixin Media will affect its journalistic independence, and that if Alibaba will gradually establish its own media empire.
Yesterday afternoon (March, 2nd, 2016) Caixin Media responded to our first piece of report and admitted that it was close to completing its C round of funding. As of this piece of report, both Alibaba and Caixin Media haven’t denounced such investment plan.
The following is the full text of Caixin Media’s statement:
Recently, there have been rumors about the new investors of Caixin Media. We hereby announce:
Since the inception of Caixin Media, we have always been sticking to some of the core principles of journalism while highlighting innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. It is through the tremendous efforts of all the members of Caixin Media that we have become one of the most influential media groups of financial and business news abroad and at home.
We have been widely recognized by not only our readers and the media circle, but also the capital market. We are close to completing C round of funding and introducing many quality investors. These new stakeholders will respect Caixin Media’s editorial independence, as our past stakeholders have done, and abide by our internal firewall, and compliance management arrangements, which will safeguard our public credibility.”
At present, China Media Capital (CMC, a Shanghai-based public equity and venture capital firm) is the biggest shareholder of Caixin Media. Tencent acquired an undisclosed stake in Caixin Media in B-round of financing. It is to be expected who is to be included in the C-round of financing.
To abide by the related rules and regulations, we and our new investors will disclose all the necessary details after we will have completed the C-round of financing. We would like to take this opportunity and thank all of you for your concern and support of Caixin Media.
March, 2nd, 2016
Wang Shuai, the Chief Marketing Officer and a member of the Strategic Decision Committee of Alibaba, said Wednesday on his personal microblog, in response to reports of the talks for the Caixin stake, that:
“Alibaba had no interest in political events or in controlling the media. We invest in the media sector either because we want to combine our e-commerce business with logistics and distribution service of traditional media groups and benefit both traditional media, consumers and ourselves, or because we are confident about the future development of business data. We teamed up with Yicai (owned by China News Network) because we want to help it become the "Bloomberg" in China. In the process, however, we will never interfere with its journalistic independence."
What Mr. Wang Shuai said might be the truth, since it could be really hard to manipulate Caixin Media, based on what we know about Ms. Hu Shuli and her Caixin Media.
Prior to the on-going C-round financing, Caixin Media has already received a small sum of investment from Tencent and other investors, and China Media Capital remains its biggest shareholder. Although Alibaba didn't invest much in Caixin Media this time, it has already managed to strike a good balance between Tencent and itself.
-To be updated-
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @TMTpost-Chinese, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.