Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) has agreed on a $266 million deal to acquire the South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group Ltd (0583.HK), a deal that has raised a question over the outlook for its editorial independence.
In a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday, SCMP Group Ltd (0583.HK) cited an “uncertain” future for traditional publishing as a key reason behind the sale, adding Alibaba would likely be able to “unlock greater value” from the business.
The all-cash purchase transfers control of the 112-year-old English language newspaper from Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok to Chinese billionaire Jack Ma at a time of increasing concern over Beijing’s control over China’s most free-wheeling city.
As Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post reports on issues and topics that are considered sensitive in mainland China, where the websites of several international media are blocked.
“I think it will be interesting to see if the existing reporters and editorial staff would like to continue to stay. It’s worth watching,” said James Sung, a political analyst at City University of Hong Kong. Read more