South China Morning Post Saved by Jack Ma? Will Alibaba’s Prosperity Rain Down on the Paper?

( [email protected] ) Nov 30, 2015 02:30 AM EST
Jack Ma could buy the struggling South China Morning Post in the hopes of seeing the paper rise again.

Jack Ma could buy the struggling South China Morning Post in the hopes of seeing the paper rise again. 

According to Yahoo!, Ma could have a certain strategy for the paper and that analysts believe his Midas Touch will work.

Last Friday, Nov. 27, Alibaba was rumoured to have a back deal with the newspaper. The deal would supposedly involve all the media assets of the SCMP Group and this includes the paper distribution of the Post.

SCMP Group has confirmed the talks of the deal but did not specify any details about the buyout.

"The board confirms that the company has received a preliminary approach from a third party regarding its interest in a possible purchase of the company's media assets," said a statement from the group.

"Consideration of such proposal is at a very early stage and the terms of any potential transaction remain subject to decision and to regulartory review."

An internal memo published to SCMP staff was seen by AFP last Wednesday, Nov. 25, and it included the CEO, Robin Hu's announcement. The memo stated that they could involve other assets like event businesses, magazines, outdoor media and custom publishing in the deal.

The South China Morning Post is a globally renowned paper founded in 1903. The SCMP has been a portal of the world inside Hong Kong and the mainland. It also covered historic events such as Mao's era and the 1997 handover.

As the years passed, the paper's profits have toned down as the digital age came. They were also affected by the dissipating trust of the readers as their editorials become more pro-Beijing. There had been massive protests about their mainland inclination over the years.

With different issues inside the company, analysts still believe that Ma could turn things around.

"I think it's a smart move for Jack Ma," said financial analyst Jackson Wong. "He has tons of cash and he knows how to run a business in China very well."

Alibaba, having their own advertising platform, can also help the SCMP boost its revenue.

Though business-wise, this acquisition would be fully beneficial for the paper, others are doubting the move. Since SCMP has been known for being an independent-thinking paper, the commerce-oriented Alibaba could change the tone and style of the long-running paper.

"For all readers of the South China Morning Post the paper has become progressively pro-Beijing, I think this trend will continue," said Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Centre for China Studies, a former China editor at the paper.

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