Japan’s SoftBank is reportedly in talks with Chinese Alibaba Group, discussing ways how to expand e-commerce between the two countries. According to The Wall Street Journal, the idea is that Alibaba’s e-commerce unit, Taobao, would work with 41% SoftBank-owned Yahoo Japan Corp. to help small and medium-sized merchants to sell goods through each other’s platforms. As a result, potential customer base would be widened for users of both Alibaba and Taobao.
SoftBank owns a 33% stake in Alibaba Group and its chief executive Masayoshi Son sits on Alibaba Group’s board of directors. And although Yahoo owns 34% of Yahoo Japan and 39% of Alibaba Group, the Internet giant is not included in the talks, according to WSJ.
SoftBank’s recent investments include RockYou, an application developer for social-networking sites; and Ustream, which is a provider of live video streaming to the Internet and mobile devices.
The way I see it, something’s gotta happen from this deal. Softbank is not a private equity company, hence when they’ve invested in Alibaba, they probably/certainly knew what they’ll do with it when the timing is right. So the question is – is now the right time to integrate Alibaba in Softbank’s offering? What do you think?