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Chinese app distribution heats up as Alibaba acquires rest of UCWeb in $4 billion value deal

Already owned 66 percent of browser outfit
Chinese app distribution heats up as Alibaba acquires rest of UCWeb in $4 billion value deal
Date Type Companies Involved Size
Jun 11, 2014 acquisition Alibaba UCWeb Not disclosed
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While many in the Chinese mobile games market see Tencent's domination of distribution and publishing is almost inevitable, the other giant players in the market have other plans.

In 2013, search giant Baidu spent $1.9 billion buying app distribution outfit 91 Wireless, and now ecommerce giant Alibaba - which is about to IPO in the US - has fully acquired UCWeb.

It's best known for its UC browser, which in China has spawn the UC 9Game platform, which provides a combination of Android app distribution and social interaction for players.

UCWeb says the browser has 500 million users globally, of which 150 million are outside of China.

Web of togetherness

Alibaba was already an investor in UCWeb, owning two thirds of the company through its convertible preferred share holding.

It previously valued its stake in UCWeb at around $540 million, and although the cost of the acquisition wasn't revealed, UCWeb's CEO is reported as saying the deal valued his company at more than double what Baidu paid for 91 Wireless.

"The move highlights the comprehensive integration of Alibaba and UCWeb following Alibaba's investment in UCWeb in 2009 and 2013, and will enables deeper synergies between the companies by marrying Alibaba's strengths in e-commerce, cloud computing and big data technology and UCWeb's leading market position and technology in mobile," the companies said in a statement.

Earlier in 2014, Alibaba had announced it was launching its own mobile gaming platform to rival Tencent's. It also operates the Laiwang mobile messaging service and AliPay payment service.

[source: Wall Street Journal]