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Alibaba acquires South China Morning Post for $266 mn

MUMBAI: Alibaba Group is acquiring Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) for $266 million, a move that will allow billionaire Jack Ma to control a newspaper so that he can present “plurality of views about coverage on China”.

The acquisition will include the flagship newspaper and other media assets, including a weekly magazine, education unit, and all digital properties. The deal also includes media businesses like the Hong Kong editions of Esquire, Elle and other magazines.

SCMP has been struggling financially and its profits have dropped for the past three years. The print circulation has also dipped. With the purchase, Alibaba will want SCMP to go more digital.

SCMP, which started its newspaper issue on 6 November 1903, was publicly listed in Hong Kong in 1971. Rupert Murdoch took a majority stake but sold it to Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok in 1993.

Earlier, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, demonstrating the interest of Internet tycoons to snap up struggling print media companies. Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook Inc., had acquired a majority stake in the New Republic magazine in 2012.