Sina Corp, a once-mighty company known for one of the top four news portals in China, is failing to catch up to the tide of transformation sweeping China’s media platforms. A report by WSJ last week said Alibaba could “pick up Sina Corp. on the cheap”.
However, Charles Cao, Sina Corp’s Chairman and CEO, dismissed this rumor at the 2015 China Green Companies Summit last weekend, saying that Sina Corp and its microblogging service Sina Weibo are not planning to sell, at least for now. He said that he has never considered selling the company.
According to Sina’s financial results in fiscal 2015, it earned USD 880.7 million in net revenue, only a slight growth compared to USD 768.2 million in 2014. Its main source of income is online advertising, which accounted for more than 80% of total revenue. The ad revenue generated from its news portal declined USD 34.7 million compared with last year. According to WSJ, Sina’s revenue from its portal last year fell 15% from two years ago.
Alibaba, Sina Weibo’s second-largest shareholder with a 31% stake, is in discussion with banks for a loan of up to $4 billion to fund expansion plans, as a source close to the matter told WSJ. Thus, according to WSJ, Alibaba may acquire Sina Corp, judging from the e-commerce giant’s pursuit of media platforms. Recent acquisitions and investment by Alibaba in the media space include the South China Morning Post and China Business News.
Sina Corp is an online media company with three digital media networks, including its portal, mobile portal and its social media arm Weibo. At the summit, Cao admitted that one of its businesses is growing quickly, while another has slackened. The fast-growing business may be its social media platform, which got a YoY increase of USD 137.6 million in revenue from online advertising in fiscal 2015.
“If there is a suitable opportunity for us, we will look for a transaction in the capital market, although for now we don’t have such plans,” said Cao.
(Top photo from Dh.weixiaoxin.cn)