Chinese online retail giant Alibaba has indicated that it will acquire a 15% stake in home improvement chain Easyhome for a price of approximately 5.45 billion yuan or around $865 million. Alibaba has embarked on a strategy of leveraging online and offline retail businesses. Easyhome was started close to two decades ago and is currently the second-largest furniture and home improvement supplies chain operator. Last year the firm generated sales of over 60 billion yuan.
For a couple of years now Alibaba has made significant investments in China’s retail sector. In 2015 the Chinese online retail giant purchased a 20% interest in Suning.com, a retailer of electronics at a price of $4.6 billion. And last year in November Alibaba acquired a stake worth $2.9 billion in Sun Art Retail Group Ltd, a top hypermarket operator in China. Also in 2017 Alibaba led in a $2.6 billion privatization effort of Chinese retail form Intime Retail Group.
Content licensing deal
This comes in the wake of the entertainment arm of Alibaba indicating that it had inked a licensing deal with Walt Disney. The multi-year agreement will see Disney animations become available on Alibaba’s entertainment platforms.
The deal which was signed between Alibaba and the motion picture distributor owned by Disney, Buena Vista International, will see subscribers of Youku access more than 1,000 animation television episodes on the video hub of the Chinese online retail giant. Additionally close to 30 million households which use set-top boxes from Alibaba as well as partner platforms will also be able to access the content from Disney.
“The addition of Disney content greatly enriches the library of quality international content on Alibaba’s media and entertainment ecosystem, giving us a leading edge in foreign content distribution in China. We look forward to further cooperation with global entertainment companies,” the president of Youku, Yang Weidong, said.
At the moment Youku, which is wholly owned by Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, is the biggest video streaming service in China. On a daily basis Youku reaches approximately 580 million devices and around 1.2 billion views. Besides the agreement with Walt Disney, Alibaba also has other deals with the likes of Sony Pictures Television, NBCUniversal, Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. Last year Youku also signed an agreement with online video streaming giant Netflix on a hit television show known as Day and Night.
The agreements Alibaba has struck with Hollywood is in fulfilment of a plan to offer more varied and global content to Chinese consumers. Currently China is the second-largest film market in the world.