Alibaba is acquiring UCWeb in China's largest internet merger ever

China’s Alibaba Group is buying UCWeb, one of the nation’s top mobile browser companies, in a deal that will give the e-commerce giant a bigger reach with smartphone users. It’s unclear how much Alibaba is paying for the company, but it already owns a 66 percent stake in UCWeb. As part of the deal, UCWeb will become UCWeb Mobile Business Group, an Alibaba unit, and be led by its existing CEO Yu Yongfu. In a Wednesday statement, Yu said the valuation “far exceeded” the US$1.9 billion Chinese search engine Baidu paid for two app stores last year, making the acquisition of UCWeb the largest in the country’s Internet industry. Close to 3,000 workers from UCWeb will join the e-commerce company.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Wednesday it will buy all the remaining shares of mobile browser firm UCWeb in the biggest merger in Chinese internet history, as the e-commerce giant steps up its spending spree ahead of its U.S. listing. Alibaba’s latest deal, hot on the heels of a string of investments which already total $4.8 billion in the past six months, will be larger even than Baidu’s $1.9 billion acquisition of 91 Wireless last year, Alibaba said. Alibaba’s investment in UCWeb emphasises the company’s push to do more business on mobile in the world’s biggest smartphone market. But rival Tencent Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest listed Internet firm, dominates smartphone screens with its near-ubiquitous mobile messaging app WeChat, a situation which Alibaba executives have publicly railed against. “This integration will create the biggest merger in the history of China’s Internet,” Alibaba said on its microblog. Alibaba already held about a 66 percent stake in UCWeb, according to its May IPO filing. The e-commerce giant and UCWeb will form the UCWeb Mobile Business Group responsible for internet browsers, search services, location-based services, the mobile gaming platform, mobile application distribution and mobile literature services, UCWeb said in a statement.

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