Alibaba has raised its stake in investment bank China International Capital Corp (CICC) to 4.84 per cent, bringing it close to the 4.95 per cent level arch rival Tencent achieved when it invested $370m in CCC in 2017. The investment will make Alibaba CICC's third-largest shareholder behind Tencent and Central Huijin, a unit of China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp (CIC).
Tencent and Alibaba, China's most valuable companies, compete fiercely in several areas, from ecommerce and entertainment to payments. Both have large investment portfolios in overlapping sectors — often leading to massive cash burn as seen in the battle waged in food delivery between Tencent-backed Meituan-Dianping and Alibaba's Ele.me.
Rivalry has also spilled over into the hiring of professional advisers, with bankers and lawyers griping about being told to pick sides: Ant Financial, the Alibaba payments affiliate, made a number of banks sign what were described by one banker as "very restrictive non-compete" agreements preventing them from working for Tencent entities.