Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s most important media property is on the lookout for a new chief executive after tasking helmsman Gary Liu with running a spinoff that will turn artwork into non-fungible tokens.
South China Morning Post, the influential Hong Kong news outlet Alibaba bought in 2015, said it launched a global search for a new leader. Liu will keep running the company until his replacement is found, Alibaba Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai told staff in a memo Wednesday.
The move comes as Alibaba is said to be exploring options for media assets including the century-old English language news organization that aspired to become the go-to destination for news on the world’s No. 2 economy.
“A global search for our next CEO is underway, and I will share details of the leadership transition at a future date,” Liu wrote in a staff memo seen by Bloomberg outlining the SCMP’s new blockchain venture. The SCMP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2021, China’s top economic planner unveiled a proposal that aims to bar private capital from news operations. The restrictions — which would apply only to domestic investments — came months after concerns were expressed in Beijing about Alibaba’s controversial handling of a scandal involving one of its executives.
Bauhinia Culture (Hong Kong) Holdings Ltd. is interested in adding the city’s most prominent English-language newspaper join its stable of media properties, Bloomberg News has reported. Alibaba representatives have denied the company is for sale.
Founded in 1903, SCMP was once one of the most profitable newspapers in the world, boosted by a large classified job-advertisement section. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch acquired control of the paper in 1986 before selling his stake to Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok in 1993. The paper changed hands again in 2015 when Alibaba agreed to buy it for about HK$2 billion ($256 million).
“I want to express my high optimism for SCMP’s future. We remain as committed to SCMP’s mission as ever,” Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai said in the memo.
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