BORDEAUX • Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has snapped up two historic French vineyards for nearly €12 million (S$18.3 million).
Mr Ma bought the Chateau Guerry and the Chateau Perenne, dating back to the 18th century, in the heart of the fabled Bordeaux wine-growing region.
Their owner, French wine magnate Bernard Magrez, confirmed the sale after the transaction was reported by British magazine Decanter.
The Chateau Perenne is spread over 64ha in the Blaye Cotes-de- Bourg appellation, producing about 500,000 bottles of red and white wines annually.
Chateau Guerry is the oldest estate in the Cotes de Bourg appellation, producing 84,000 bottles of red a year, over about 20ha.
The purchases add to the Chateau de Sours vineyard, which Mr Ma bought in Bordeaux's Entre-Deux- Mers wine region in February. It includes a magnificent 18th-century country house.
Mr Magrez said the sale of the estates were part of a "strategy to move away from entry-level Bordeaux wines" to top-level appellations, as wine classifications are called.
More than 100 properties in France's south-west wine-producing area are owned by Chinese tycoons looking to diversify their fortunes. This makes up 1.5 per cent of the region's 7,000 vineyards.
Part of the appeal for the Chinese is the status that comes with possessing a noble French chateau as part of their wine-growing property. China is the biggest consumer of red wine in the world and remains the top export market for Bordeaux.