Alibaba Plans to Drop Domestic Broadcaster Amid Beijing’s Regulatory Crackdown

By Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
September 24, 2021 Updated: September 24, 2021

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is seeking to sell its entire stake in Mango Excellent Media, less than a year after buying stock shares from the company. The move comes as Beijing has tightened its grip over various industries, including e-commerce.

Television-based service provider Mango Excellent Media, headquartered in Hunan Province, announced on Sept. 24 that an investment arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. proposed to sell the entire 5.01 percent shares of the broadcaster, according to the company’s filing to Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

The shares were valued at about $600 million based on Thursday’s closing price. However, the tech giant paid $960 million when it bought the shares nine months ago.

Alibaba is seeking a waiver from a one-year lockup agreement, the filing showed. The agreed period ends on Dec. 26, 2021.

The document didn’t reveal the proposed selling price, yet shares of the media company have fallen roughly 40 percent since Alibaba’s investment proposal was disclosed last year.

Alibaba built a portfolio of media holdings under its founder Jack Ma, covering print media, social media, advertising, and movies. The company has stocks in media outlets, including Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post and China’s Twitter-equivalent platform Weibo, in addition to its own filmmaking division, Alibaba Pictures.

Epoch Times Photo
A copy (C) of the South China Morning Post is displayed at a newsstand in Hong Kong on Dec. 12, 2015. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

Ma and his empire have been targeted in a regulatory crackdown since the past year. The billionaire criticized China’s regulatory system in a speech last October for having “too many prohibitions and limitations with too few policies.”

Soon after, Ma disappeared for three months. Meanwhile, regulators rolled out sweeping punishments, including a record $2.8 billion antitrust penalty in April and halting its affiliate company Ant Group’s $37 billion listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong last November.

Moreover, Beijing ordered Alibaba to liquidate its media assets for challenging the state-controlled media propaganda, according to a March report by The Wall Street Journal.

Alibaba said in a statement that it did not “intervene or get involved in the [media] companies’ day-to-day operations or editorial decisions,” The Journal reported.

As of date, Alibaba’s stock price has fallen by nearly half over the past year.

In recent months, the Chinese Communist Party has implemented regulatory crackdowns that have targeted several big companies and organizations, as well as influential individuals, in a bid to solidify its rule in the mainland, according to China watchers.

Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.