Alibaba to take over China's YouTube

Billionaire Jack Ma aims to develop Youku Tudou as China’s leading digital entertainment platform.
Billionaire Jack Ma aims to develop Youku Tudou as China’s leading digital entertainment platform.BLOOMBERG

BEIJING (AFP) - Billionaire Jack Ma's Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Friday announced a multi-billion-dollar deal to take over video streaming service Youku Tudou as it seeks to spread its online empire.

Alibaba is snapping up Youku Tudou, China's equivalent to YouTube, in the latest of a string of acquisitions as it sets its sights far beyond its core eBay-style transactions business.

In a "definitive merger agreement", Alibaba will pay US$27.60 in cash per US-traded American depositary share in Youku Tudou, the companies said in a statement, without giving the overall value.

The price is 35 per cent higher than the share price on Oct 15 just before the takeover bid was first announced.

The agreed price is slightly up from the first bid of US$26.60, an offer that had a total deal value of about US$4.6 billion (S$6.4 billion) according to Bloomberg News.

Alibaba already owns more than 18 per cent of Youku Tudou, which offers mostly professionally produced video content licensed from copyright holders.

Launching the takeover bid last month, Alibaba's Ma said he aimed to develop the hugely popular Youku Tudou as China's leading digital entertainment platform.

"We are confident that we will strengthen our market position and further accelerate our growth through the integration of our advertising and consumer businesses with Alibaba's platform and Alipay services," said Youku Tudou chief executive Victor Koo in a joint statement with Alibaba.

The deal, unanmously approved by Youku Tudou's board, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 subject to approval by shareholders, the two firms said.