Chinese internet giant Alibaba set up a new sports business on Wednesday as it continues to expand into areas beyond e-commerce amid growth concerns in the world's second-largest economy.
Exact details of what the Alibaba Sports Group would be doing were thin, but the New York-listed parent company said it will be involved in several different aspects of the industry.
"Alibaba Sports Group expects to integrate e-commerce, media, marketing, video, home entertainment, cloud computing and other Internet-enabled technologies to form a sports platform that will participate in different aspects of the professional sports industry, including sports copyrights, sports media, events, ticketing, etc," the company said in a press release.
The push into the sports business comes amid concerns about economic growth in China. Alibaba said on Tuesday that it expected second-quarter gross merchandise volume – a key metric watched by investors – to be lower than initial estimates due to weaker consumer spending in China.
Alibaba has been also focusing on other parts of its business such as its cloud arm called Aliyun and its other diversified investments includetaxi app Uber's China rival, Didi Kuaidi. The e-commerce giant has also poured $4.63 billion into Chinese bricks-and-mortar electronics retailer Suning as it looks to link its online presence to physical stores.
Sport has been a big area of focus for Chinese Internet companies, particularly as U.S. and U.K. basketball and soccer leagues look to expand into Asia. Alibaba has recently struck deals with Spanish and German soccer teams Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to sell merchandise through its e-commerce site. Rival Tencent signed a deal at the beginning of the year that gave it the exclusive rights to stream National Basketball Association (NBA) games for users in China.
Alibaba Sports group will be majority-owned by Alibaba Group with CEO Daniel Zhang also serving as chairman of the new business. The Alibaba Sports Group was created with Sina Corporation and Yunfeng Capital.