Alibaba Group Holding Ltd offered to pay $3.5 billion to become the sole owner of Youku Tudou Inc, known as China’s YouTube, in a move that would give the e-commerce giant access to more than half a billion online video users.
The offer, a vote of confidence in China’s economy from Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma, makes Youku Tudou the latest in a string of U.S.-listed Chinese companies being taken private by big shareholders.
“Alibaba needs traffic. Online or mobile video is the number one place for that,” said Tian Hou, an analyst at TH Capital in New York.
Alibaba first bought into Youku Tudou in mid-2014, acquiring a stake of about 18 percent as part of a push into online video.
Alibaba’s offer for Youku Tudou values the 82 percent of the company it does not own at $4.6 billion.
But it will end up paying $3.5 billion, taking into account the $1.1 billion of cash on Youku Tudou’s books, Alibaba’s chief financial officer, Maggie Wu, said on a call on Friday.
Youku Tudou said the all-cash offer already had the support of its chairman and chief executive, Victor Koo.
Koo, a Bain & Co alumnus who holds an MBA from Stanford University, owns about 18 percent of Youku Tudou, according to a securities filing.