Alibaba, the Chinese internet giant, is currently focused on investing internationally to grow its business, but is also continuing to build out operations at home. In the latest move, it has invested $193.6 million (RMB1.2 billion) into China Business News to create a new financial data and information services company.
“The era of Data Technology is here and it will surpass the Information Technology era. The DT era is about transparency, sharing of information and enabling others,” said Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma in a statement announcing the deal. “Alibaba is excited about the possibilities of the DT era and how it can bring value to society.” The deal was formalised earlier today in a signing ceremony in Shanghai involving Alibaba exec Tiger Wang and CBN chairman LI Rong.
On the face of it, it sounds like the idea will be to create a Bloomberg-style product for the Chinese market, but specifically catering to businesses rather than to investors. Alibaba describes the new venture as a “financial data and information services company that will help Chinese small and medium enterprises tap a rich mine of financial data.” So far it is unclear when the product might launch.
The investment is part of a wider strategic agreement Alibaba is making with CBN’s owner, Shanghai Media Group, and as part of it Alibaba will be providing the technology and cloud platform that will underpin this service, while CBN will be providing the news content.
“By utilizing Alibaba Group’s big data and cloud computing capabilities, both companies will jointly develop a comprehensive financial data and information platform that will provide users with timely financial news and information in order to enhance their investment and financial decision-making capabilities,” Alibaba notes.
This won’t be the first time Alibaba and CBM will be working together. As part of Alibaba’s strategy to forge partnerships with third parties to expand its business, CBN already uses Alipay to provide stock quote information and for a wealth management information product. It sounds like this and more services like it will be rolled into the new venture. Right now the service is on desktop but it will also be added to Mobile Taobao too, Alibaba says.
Since going public, Alibaba’s investments have included a nearly $600 million investment in smartphone maker Meizu, a stake in Snapchat, and a $120 million investment in gaming company Kabam. But it has also had an eye specifically for financial services, too. It powers a credit scoring service, it is buying into payment startups, and it has teamed up with Lending Club for a financing service.
Alibaba says the idea here will be to “raise the bar” on the kind of information Chinese business people have at their fingertips to make decisions, but you can also see how an international component to this could be interesting, too.
As China’s star continues to rise in the world of business, we’re seeing a growing number of foreign investors look to tap into its domestic market just as much as Chinese entrepreneurs may be looking to invest abroad.