This request represents another escalation of regulatory pressure that has continuously heaped upon Ma’s empire. This, however, followed the spectacular failure of Ant Financial to go public in November 2020.
Earlier this year, the crackdown on Alibaba’s media holdings began after Chinese officials took a full accounting of the company’s collection of assets. According to sources in the country, Alibaba’s expensive media interests had appalled officials. They requested the company to come up with a plan to cut back on its holdings.
Beijing was reportedly alarmed by the potential power Alibaba’s network of media properties could give it over public opinion in China. This is the power that should only be had by the Chinese Communist Party, according to the country’s authoritarian government.
Alibaba has over the years assembled a big portfolio of stakes and ownership positions in influential media and entertainment companies.
Such touchpoints with consumers could provide business synergies for the firm’s core e-commerce business.
On the news and social media side, Alibaba and Ant own 100% of the region’s leading English newspaper, South China Morning Post. They also own 30% of Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter. And then 37% of the Chinese influential news organization, Yicai Media Group.
Those and many other things Alibaba has its foot or whole body in gave the company a lot of influence in many of the country’s aspects.
It still remains unclear whether Alibaba will sell off a portion of its media assets. Or its entire portfolio in the category. The government will carefully review any plan the company comes up with and will require the sign-off of senior government leadership.
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