Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) signed a definitive agreement to buy South China Morning Post and other media assets owned by SCMP Group Limited (HKG:0583). The companies did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.
The acquisition includes the magazine, recruitment, outdoor media, events & conferences, education, and digital media business of SCMP Group.
In addition to the South China Morning Post, Alibaba Group also acquired other SCMP titles including the Sunday Morning Post, and the Hong Kong editions of Esquire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, The Peak, and Harper’s Bazaar.
The e-commerce giant also acquired media company’s digital platforms including the SCMP.com, Nanzao.com, and Nanzaozhinan.com and related mobile apps.
According to the Chinese e-commerce giant, the acquisition will combine the heritage and editorial excellence of South China Morning Post with Alibaba’s digital expertise to provide comprehensive and insightful news and analysis on big stories in China and Hong Kong.
Alibaba to expand South China Morning Post’s readership
In a statement, Alibaba Group Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai, said, “The South China Morning Post is unique because it focuses on coverage of China in the English language. This is a proposition that is in high demand by readers around the world who care to understand the world’s second largest economy.
Mr. Tsai added that the Chinese e-commerce giant aims to expand the readership of South China Morning Post globally through digital distribution and easier access to content.
On the other hand, SCMP CEO Robin Hu said, “With proven expertise especially in mobile Internet, Alibaba is in an excellent position to leverage technology to create content more efficiently and reach a global audience.”
Alibaba to uphold South China Morning Post’s editorial independence
Alibaba Group promised to uphold the editorial independence of South China Morning Post.
Mr. Tsai rejected some suggestions that Alibaba’s ownership of the newspaper will compromise its editorial independence. According to him, “This criticism reflects a bias of its own, as if to say newspaper owners must espouse certain views, while those that hold opposing views are unfit.”
He emphasized that the management of Alibaba believes that the “world needs a plurality of views” regarding China as it rises as an economic power. Mr. Tsai added that China’s role to the world stability is too important to have a singular thesis.
Mr. Tsai emphasized that South China Morning Post will be accurate, fair, and objective in reporting news. He said the newspaper will have the “courage to go against conventional wisdom.” It will verify stories, check sources and seek all viewpoints.
“These day-to-day editorial decisions will be driven by editors in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom,” said Mr. Tsai.