Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s founder Jack Ma is in talks to buy a stake in the publisher of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, according to people familiar with the matter, in what could make him the latest Internet-industry tycoon to pursue the revival of a traditional newspaper.
Discussions are at an advanced stage, two of the people said, asking not to be identified because the negotiations are private. A signing ceremony will be announced soon, one of the people said. Financial details of the deal weren’t available.
Once the world’s most profitable newspaper, SCMP has followed the path of other mastheads with falling earnings and shrinking circulation as readers shift online. Control of the city’s premier English-language broadsheet has been unchanged since Rupert Murdoch sold most of his stake to Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok in 1993.
The SCMP and Alibaba declined to comment. When asked whether he’s interested in buying the SCMP, Ma said in an interview this month that he’s “watching a lot of companies right now.” Attempts to reach Kuok’s group that owns the SCMP were unsuccessful.
Alibaba’s Ma would be following in the footsteps of Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos — who bought the Washington Post in 2013 — among Internet tycoons snapping up storied brands at a time printed media struggles to compete with Web-based competitors for advertising. Chris Hughes, one of the co-founders of Facebook Inc., bought a majority stake in the New Republic magazine in 2012. Read more
Categories: Asia Unhedged