Alibaba Boosts Stake in Chinese Bank to 4.8%

The e-commerce giant joins rival Tencent in becoming a major CICC shareholder as both firms eye opportunities in fintech.
Matthew HellerFebruary 19, 2019
Alibaba Boosts Stake in Chinese Bank to 4.8%

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has raised its stake in China International Capital Corp. in a move that continues its expansion into the booming fintech sector.

According to a regulatory filing in Hong Kong, Alibaba bought 117 million CICC H-shares on Feb. 14 at an average price of HK$15.50, indicating a total investment of HK$1.81 billion ($230.61 million).

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The move makes Alibaba the third-largest shareholder in the Chinese investment bank, with 4.84% of CICC’s total shares and 11.74% of its H shares in the Hong Kong market. Alibaba arch-rival Tencent is the second-largest shareholder.

“CICC is one of the top investment banks in China. Alibaba’s investment in CICC will strengthen our long-time partnership and better serve our customers with innovative product and services,” an Alibaba spokesperson said.

CICC previously helped Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services Group raise $14 billion in private funding last year, and it worked on Alibaba’s 2014 initial public offering. Ant owns Alipay, a mobile-payment platform with more than 700 million users in China.

“China’s powerful tech firms have expanded aggressively into the booming fintech sector by partnering with traditional financial institutions,” Reuters noted, adding that having “two of China’s strongest internet firms as its major investors gives CICC more access to their extensive user data and advanced technology as it explores new growth areas.”

Tencent, a gaming and internet giant, acquired a 5% stake in CICC for US$372 million in 2017. Its WeChat messaging app also provides mobile payment services, microloans, and wealth-management products.

Alibaba and Tencent are China’s most valuable companies. According to The Financial Times, it is highly unusual for them to invest in the same company since they “compete fiercely in several areas, from ecommerce and entertainment to payments.”

CICC, China’s first joint venture investment bank, earned $458 million in investment banking fees for the Asia-Pacific region last year, ranking it 10th in the region. Central Huijin Investment, part of mainland China’s sovereign wealth fund, owns a controlling 55.68% stake in the bank.