This week in M&A: Alibaba continues spending spree, YouTube network expands

Continuing its spending spree in 2014, Chinese e-commerce major Alibaba has grabbed the headlines this week as it expands its portfolio on the domestic market. Another Asian player, iBuy, has expanded its presence in the region by adding a daily-deal marketplace to its business, while US-based RentPath continues a process of consolidation in the rental classifieds market. Rounding off the week, AwesomenessTV purchased a fellow YouTube network, demonstrating the growing liquidity among video-sharing channels. In all, business brokers are enjoying a quiet period on the market following a busy start to 2014, with the major trend this week being consolidation and expansion of core products through acquisition.

Alibaba reinforces its television business

Following its $692 million acquisition of an 80.0% stake in department store operator InTime Retail just a week ago, Alibaba has continued its capital-intensive spending spree. The Chinese e-commerce giant purchased a 20% stake in Wasu Media Group, a domestic cable, digital and internet television operator, for $1.0 billion. Alibaba has actively made strides into the media business and the company hopes to utilise Wasu’s expertise in pushing its smart TV operating system. Alibaba is using its cash reserves to branch out across all of China’s digital segment, and the company will likely look to make further purchases this year in spheres including games, music, education, cloud computing and big data.

Teen YouTube network expands subscriber base

YouTube channels are becoming big business, signalled by the growing interest of US entertainment majors such as Disney and Warner Brothers in the market. Shoring up subscriber numbers and expanding views on the video-sharing channel is a fast way of adding value. In this ongoing trend, AwesomenessTV bought fellow YouTube channel Big Frame for $15 million, in part to add a talented team to its roster as well as to expand the network. Big Frame works with more than 300 YouTube channels to create and market video content and counts around 39 million total subscribers and 3.4 billion total views.

Rental marketplace drives consolidation 

RentPath, a digital firm that focuses on the real estate market, has acquired Lovely, a mobile-powered end-to-end rental marketplace, for $13 million. The move is set to add a more mobile-focused angle to RentPath, while Lovely will continue to operate out of San Francisco under the leadership of co-founders Blake Pierson and Doug Wormhoudt. RentPath is building up a solid portfolio of real estate rental businesses, already working with rentalhouses.com and rent.com on the US market.

Singaporean e-commerce platform buys local daily-deal business

Asian e-commerce platform iBuy has purchased the Southeast Asian arm of US-based of LivingSocial, which offers daily deals to consumers across the world in a number of entertainment and leisure categories. The $18.5 million acquisition is likely to be welcome news for struggling LivingSocial, which suffered a $183 million net loss in 2013. iBuy is a regional powerhouse that specialises in promoting flash sales across a network of websites.

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