Jack Ma. This is the name that is going around with increasing insistence in the economic environment of Southeast Asia, in reference to the operation that should lead to the purchase of Erick Thohir’s Inter shares (31%) from an investment fund based in Hong Kong. And this name absolutely has its logic. Jack Ma, in fact, is the founder and president of Alibaba, the Chinese internet giant. And Alibaba has a stake of around 20% in Suning: a partnership to build powerful e-commerce platform set up by Inter ownership.
Among other things, Jack Ma recently has formed a direct alliance with Suning Sports branch. While only a few months ago, there was an image showing Zhang Jindong, Steven Zhang, Jack Ma and Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, all together on the terrace of the Suning Bellagio in Shanghai to celebrate the €200M agreement with Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment platform. Forever, on the occasion of a recent visit in Milan, Jack Ma also met with Pasquale Gravina, FIGC president.
In short, we can already see Jack Ma’s interest in sports. But Alibaba’s boss, coincidentally, also has a private equity fund, one of the biggest in China. This is Yunfeng Capital which has its main district in Shanghai but also has its own headquarters in Hong Kong. The areas of investment are internet, technology, health, financial services, logistics, consumer goods but also media and entertainment. Another piece of the puzzle is that Suning is already part of Yunfeng Capital’s portfolio. In short, considering that behind the sale of Thohir’s 31%, there are enough clues there to believe that Jack Ma-Yunfeng Capital are the one.
Suning would have at their side a partner that they know perfectly well since both are already involved in other businesses. However, such a strong link would allow the distribution of shares to be changed in the future without major problems. Not to mention the potential for development that having a partner like Jack Ma, who recently became the richest man in China with a personal wealth of $34.6B could offer. Therefore, Inter will be even more solid and the channels to increase revenues will multiply.
With regard to the plans of Suning, Alessandro Antonello, Inter CEO of finance, said that “the big challenge was to change from a family business to an international team. It’s a process started in 2016. Now we have to focus on our new challenges for the future. Our strategy is clear: widen the fanbase, increase revenues, make the brand grow. Great opportunities have obviously opened up in China. Inter bran means history and legacy from the past. We must look to the future by trying to be more modern, combining Italian style and keeping our history in mind.”