Alibaba Splits Into 6 Groups - Will Google Follow?

Alibaba, one of China’s largest ecommerce companies, this week announced plans to split itself into six independently run companies that could file separate initial public offerings.

The move would dismantle a business empire built over two decades by business tycoon Jack Ma.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Alibaba was once valued at more than $800 billion, but now is worth about a quarter of that after Chinese authorities said in recent months they were winding down a “sweeping regulatory clampdown aimed at reining in the country’s powerful tech sector.”



Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, helped to build the company into one of the world’s largest ecommerce businesses. He was known for his outspoken views until recently, when China stepped up to take more control and “embarked on its campaign to tame internet companies. Since then, Ma has largely kept a low profile and remained abroad.

Alibaba on Tuesday unveiled the new organizational structure. Each of the six companies will have an independent board of directors and CEO. The six include cloud intelligence; internet retail; mapping; transactions; logistics; and digital media. Alibaba would become the holding company for the six.

Daniel Zhang will remain chairman and CEO of the holding company in addition to running the cloud division.

Barron's reported that the stock soared Tuesday -- the day it was announced on the news -- and was on track to have its best stock day in months.

Jim Osman, founder of The Edge Research, which specializes in corporate spinoffs and corporate transactions, told Barron’s that Amazon’s and Google’s businesses look very similar to Alibaba’s.

Osman believes Google should consider spinning out YouTube first “to create value for shareholders and avoid unnecessary antitrust attention.”

In July 2022, Google reportedly offered to break up the business that auctions and places ads on websites and apps into a separate entity under the Alphabet holding company.

“We have been engaging constructively with regulators to address their concerns,” a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search & Performance Marketing Daily at the time. “As we've said before, we have no plans to sell or exit this business, and we're deeply committed to providing value to a wide array of publisher and advertiser partners in a highly competitive sector.”

The move was reportedly an attempt to divert a possible U.S. antitrust lawsuit.

The U.S. Justice Department conducted a long-running investigation into allegations that Google abuses its role as a broker and ad auctioneer.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, on Monday asked a U.S. federal judge to dismiss a Justice Department lawsuit alleging the search giant illegally abused its dominance of online advertising, Reuters reports.

Google argued the case should be thrown out because the government had erred in defining the online advertising market and improperly excluded competitors such as Facebook, and that the government was wrong to assert Google's acquisitions of DoubleClick and AdMeld, both more than 10 years ago, harmed competition.

Reuters reported that antitrust enforcers approved both transactions at the time.

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