Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is acquiring all the remaining shares of mobile browser firm UCWeb in what it describes as the biggest merger in Chinese internet history, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Although Alibaba did not disclose how much the deal is worth, the e-commerce giant said it will be larger that Baidu Inc.’s US$1.9 billion acquisition of app store 91 Wireless last year. Alibaba has been stepping up its spending spree which has reached US$4.8 billion in the past six months.
The company is preparing for a US initial public offering which is expected to value the group as high as US$150 billion, according to some analyst estimates, the report said.
The company’s latest investment highlights its intention to do more business on mobile in the world’s largest smartphone market. Its chief rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. dominates the space with its highly popular mobile messaging app WeChat.
“This integration will create the biggest merger in the history of China’s Internet,” Alibaba said on its microblog.
Prior to the latest deal, Alibaba already held a 66 percent stake in UCWeb. The two companies will form the UC mobile business group, which will be responsible for internet browser, mobile search, location-based services, mobile gaming, app store and mobile reader operations, according to a joint statement.
UCWeb said the mobile search service has a market share of more than 20 percent.
UCWeb chief executive Yu Yongfu will act as chairman of the business group and become part of Alibaba’s “strategic decision-making committee”, Alibaba said.
The deal will mainly be done using Alibaba’s stock with a smaller part as cash, the report said.
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