Through Alisports, Alibaba aims to provide more platforms for sports events and matches in China. (Photo : Getty Images)
In a funding round led by private equity firm Yunfeng Capital, Alibaba's sports arm Alisports is reported to be raising investments worth 1.2 billion yuan, China Money Network reported.
Yunfeng Capital, a Beijing-based company co-founded by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, is a frequent collaborator of the e-commerce giant in its strategic partnerships.
Reports said that the firm is likely to pour in around 1 billion yuan in Alisports's latest fund-raising round.
Meanwhile, other Chinese investment companies are expected to participate, though their identities could not be confirmed yet.
Should the funding round be completed, 19-month-old Alisports will then be valued at around 7 billion yuan. This will catapult it to the roster of local companies with such valuation--including giants Tencent Holdings and China Mobile--that currently tallies to 45 firms, as of writing.
Nonetheless, Alisports has not responded yet to China Money Network to confirm the funding-round rumor.
Alisports was founded in Sept. 2015 by Alibaba, Yunfeng Capital and Sina Corp. The sports unit is under the chairmanship of Daniel Zhang, Alibaba's chief executive officer. It lists Zhang Dazhong, a former vice president of the Shanghai Media Group, as its CEO.
The sports arm was established to "build a platform providing sports events, tickets, sports matches and sports news content based on Alibaba's e-commerce ecosystem and Sina's media resources," the article said.
Shortly after it was unveiled, the company has already inked a deal with FIFA and became the title sponsor of the FIFA World Cup from 2015 until 2020.
Apart from this, the firm has also secured the broadcasting rights of the National Football League. The deal, which eyes to drum up China's interest in the said sport, covers the distribution of "games, highlights and weekly programming from the league" as well as other noteworthy American football content.
In October last year, Alibaba announced that it will invest $100 million through its sports division to help promote and popularize rugby in the country.