Alibaba re­in­forces shift to de­vices

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS COMPANIES - By SHEN JINGTING shen­jingt­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese In­ter­net gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd stepped up ef­forts to repli­cate its In­ter­net suc­cess in the mo­bile sec­tor with a move that saw Chair­man Jack Ma take a seat on the board of UCWeb Inc, a Bei­jing­based mo­bile In­ter­net browser provider.

Yu Yongfu, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of UCWeb, con­firmed on Thurs­day that Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma had joined his com­pany’s board. Yu said Alibaba had made a strate­gic in­vest­ment in UCWeb as early as 2009 and later added to its in­vest­ment dur­ing an­other round of fundrais­ing for the browser com­pany.

Yu said Alibaba holds a “sig­nif­i­cant” stake in UCWeb, but did not re­veal spe­cific fig­ures.

In an e-mail sent to China Daily, Yu said UCWeb would co­op­er­ate with Alibaba in terms of e- com­merce and mo­bile pay­ment, but did not elab­o­rate fur­ther.

Founded in 2004, UCWeb is China’s big­gest mo­bile browser ser­vice provider. The com­pany has more than 400 mil­lion users world­wide. Its busi­ness sprawls across both emerg­ing mar­kets such as In­dia and some de­vel­oped economies in­clud­ing the United States.

UCWeb’s co­op­er­a­tion with Alibaba can be traced back two years ago, when Ali­pay. com Co Ltd, an af­fil­i­ate of Alibaba, part­nered with UCWeb to al­low users to make pay­ments us­ing UCWeb’s mo­bile browser.

Ali­pay of­fi­cials said the ser­vice was safe and con­ve­nient. On­line buy­ers have no need to en­ter a pass­word when the trans­ac­tion in­volves less than 200 yuan ($32.67), said Stephen Zhu, gen­eral man­ager of Ali­pay. com’s mo­bile pay­ment depart­ment, in an in­ter­view in 2011.

Alibaba’s move sig­ni­fies the com­pany’s am­bi­tion to have a big­ger say in the mo­bile In­ter­net sec­tor, where Alibaba’s do­mes­tic ri­vals Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd and Baidu Inc have gained an up­per hand.

Alibaba showed its ap­petite for a larger share in the mo­bile In­ter­net mar­ket by com­plet­ing a spate of merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions in re­cent months.

Alibaba an­nounced in May that it would ac­quire an 18 per­cent stake in Sina Weibo for $586 mil­lion. About a week later, the com­pany dis­closed an­other deal to take a 28 per­cent stake in Chi­nese dig­i­tal map­ping and nav­i­ga­tion com­pany Au­toNavi Hold­ings Ltd for $294 mil­lion. The Nas­daqlisted Au­toNavi is said to have more than 100 mil­lion users.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Alibaba made a strate­gic in­vest­ment in UCWeb as early as 2009 and later added to its in­vest­ment dur­ing an­other round of fund rais­ing for the browser com­pany.

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