Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma announced today at a press conference that the company will buy a 50% stake in Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club, one of China’s top soccer teams. The deal’s value was not disclosed, but it is reportedly worth 1.2 billion yuan ($192 million), according to Xinhua, the official Chinese state news agency. The investment may be part of an effort by Alibaba to extend its core offerings beyond e-commerce and into online entertainment ahead of its IPO, as it faces more competition from other e-commerce firms like JD.com, which recently held a successful IPO.
The e-commerce giant Alibaba Group agreed on Thursday to pay nearly $200 million for a stake in a Chinese soccer team, its latest in a recent spate of acquisitions. Alibaba, which is moving forward with plans for an initial public offering in the United States that could surpass Facebook’s $16 billion listing two years ago, said it would buy a 50 percent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande F.C. from the team’s parent company, Evergrande Real Estate Group, a property developer based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and listed in Hong Kong. Alibaba’s chairman, Jack Ma, made the announcement at a news conference in Guangzhou on Thursday with Xu Jiayin, the chairman of the developer. Financial details of the deal were not initially disclosed, but a report in The China Business Journal on Thursday said that Alibaba had agreed to pay 1.2 billion renminbi, or $192 million.