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China's Biggest Internet Deal Ever: Alibaba Fully Buys Out UCWeb

Jun 11 2014, 9:27am CDT | by

China's Biggest Internet Deal Ever: Alibaba Fully Buys Out UCWeb
 
 

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China's Biggest Internet Deal Ever: Alibaba Fully Buys Out UCWeb

China’s e-commerce juggernaut, Alibaba Group has officially completed the acquisition and merger of UCWeb, China’s number one mobile browser company to form the UC Mobile Business Group.

The deal will be the biggest acquisition in China ever since Baidu acquired 91 Wireless for  $1.9 billion last year.  Baidu actually wanted to buy UCWeb before. But both Alibaba and UCWeb have kept tight lipped about the financials relating to the acquisition.  They have only revealed the consideration for the remaining 34% equity interest in UCWeb that Alibaba does not already own, will be in the form of Alibaba shares and cash.

Against the backdrop of an intense mobile battle with Baidu and Tencent, Alibaba is making this strategic move to bolster its defense and attack. The deal really is a merger and no staff will be culled. In fact, it is simply seen as a natural step since Alibaba made its first investment into UCWeb in 2009.

“We are excited to welcome nearly 3000 new colleagues to the Alibaba family who share the same mission and passion as our team. Alibaba and UCWeb both hold firm to our beliefs and share a vision to improve people’s lives through the power of the Internet,” said Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group.

Yu Yongfu, Chairman and Chief Executive of UCWeb, will lead the new Mobile Business Group. The full integration will enable deeper synergies between Alibaba’s strengths in e-commerce, cloud computing and big data with UCWeb’s expertise in mobile.

UC Browser is UCWeb’s flagship product with more than 500 million quarterly active users worldwide. Other key assets include UC9Game, a gaming platform and PP Mobile Assistant, a mobile app distribution channel in China. Previously, Alibaba and UCWeb established a joint venture to create ‘Shenma’, a mobile search service.

The UC mobile business group of Alibaba will oversee the browser, mobile search, location-based services, mobile gaming, app store and mobile reader operations.

In its F-1 filing, Alibaba admitted that its ability to adapt to the rapidly evolving mobile commerce trend is a significant risk factor. Tencent owns China’s most powerful mobile communications app, WeChat. WeChat is especially a big threat after Tencent became the largest shareholder and strategic partner of JingDong, Alibaba’s fiercest e-commerce rival. At the time of going public, JingDong was the third biggest IPO in the world this year.

As Alibaba waits to step up to the plate and hit the biggest tech IPO in history, the UCWeb acquisition and merger adds to Alibaba’s mobile chess set. In March, Alibaba invested into Californian based mobile communication app, Tango. With the tie-up to Alibaba, UCWeb is set to splurge on hiring key talent to push its global expansion plans. UCWeb is already the largest mobile browser in India with more than 30% market share according to StatCounter.

 

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