It looks like Alibaba is in the mood for more acquisitions. The company’s recent investment spree — which includes the ongoing $3.5 billion purchase of Youku Tudou and stakes in Groupon, PayTM, Snapdeal and Snapchat — is about to get fresh ammunition after it confirmed that it has closed a $3 billion loan.
Confirmation of the deal isn’t unexpected, the Wall Street Journal reported talks with banks in February but the total announced today is shy of the $4 billion that the Journal speculated.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited today signed a five-year US$3 billion syndicated loan agreement with a group of eight lead arrangers. The loan, which is subject to upsize through oversubscriptions in syndication, has a five-year bullet maturity and is priced at 110 basis points over LIBOR. The use of proceeds of the loan is for general corporate purposes.
It’s not exactly clear what “general corporate purposes” might mean — we’ve asked Alibaba for further details of its plans — but M&A activity seems highly likely since Alibaba has ramped up its investment efforts lately.
Media is one major focus for Alibaba, vice chairman Joe Tsai admitted after it lodged a bid for Youku Tudou, China’s largest video portal. Tsai said services like Youku Tudou, which claims a monthly viewership of more than 500 million people, and microblogging service Weibo, another Alibaba investment, can help it grow its user analytics and advertising reach to increase sales and marketing. Other investments that fit within that focus might be on the cards.
Outside of its domestic business, India is a market where Alibaba is increasingly active. Company President Jack Ma often speaks of India’s vast potential and that’s one reason why the Chinese firm is sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into India’s top startups.
PayTM, the company that offers a mobile wallet service and e-commerce much like Alibaba, is one horse that Alibaba has backed. In addition to two investments, it has begun building bridges between PayTM and its own e-commerce services, enabling sellers in China to access India’s vast population and India consumers to buy Chinese products more easily.
But Alibaba isn’t relying on one company. It invested in Snapdeal and, this year, Indian media reported that it was in negotiations to buy a stake in arch rival Flipkart. It’ll be interesting to see if this new cash goes towards Flipkart, since that would leave Alibaba backing the three biggest companies that rival Amazon in India.