Alibaba Pictures Buys Majority Stake in Indian Movie Ticketing Firm for $18.6M

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Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma

The Chinese e-commerce giant's entertainment arm buys into the holding company of online ticketing platform TicketNew.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's entertainment arm has acquired a majority stake in Orbgen Technologies Private Ltd., which runs online ticketing company TicketNew, for about $18.6 million.

An Alibaba Pictures representative confirmed a report by Press Trust of India to THR.

“Alibaba plans to invest to the tune of $18.6 million (1.2 billion rupees) over a period of time,” TicketNew founder and CEO Ramkumar Nammalvar said in the report. "We are delighted to work with Alibaba Pictures. This secures the future of our staff and the company for generations to come."

It is the Chinese company's first international foray in the online ticketing space, which has been a focus for it. In March, Alibaba acquired full control of Beijing-based ticketing platform, for which financial terms were not disclosed. While making that announcement, the company said in a statement that the full takeover of Damai "fits nicely into our 'health and happiness' strategy and forms a strategic part of the value chain in our media and entertainment business." It also added that Damai "will be a powerful platform to distribute our media content as well as expand our user reach and engagement."

Based in Chennai, South India, TicketNew was founded in 2007 and offers online ticketing services for movies, sports and other events across 300 cities in India. While the company has not revealed how many tickets it sells, a report in the Hindu Businessline newspaper quoted a source saying that TicketNew handles an average of 100,000 bookings per day.

The Indian online ticketing segment is estimated to be worth around $2.2 billion. It is dominated by BookMyShow, owned by Bigtree Entertainment and backed by media conglomerate TV18, which operates a joint venture with Viacom. Last year, Bigtree received an $80 million funding round from U.S. investors, including Stripes Group.

Alibaba has earlier invested in Indian e-commerce companies Paytm and Snapdeal. In March, the company made a fresh round of investment of $177 million in a spun-off online retail unit of Paytm, which runs a digital payment platform of the same name.