Chinese Tech Giant Alibaba Sets Up Film Company

Jack Ma

Alibaba is continuing its expansion into the booming entertainment business with the registration of a company in Hong Kong.

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, which has just filed for a $1 billion initial public offering, is continuing its expansion into the entertainment industry with the registration of a film company in Hong Kong.

The company, Alibaba Pictures Group, was previously registered in April as Alibaba Films Group before changing its name later in the month, according to a regulatory filing.

PHOTOS: Johnny Depp's First Trip to China

The world's biggest e-commerce firm’s IPO could be the biggest in history, and the company will trade either on the New York Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ under a symbol to be determined later.

The company has been on a $6.2 billion buying spree in the media sector of late.

Late last month Alibaba, in which Yahoo! has a stake, said it would partner with Yunfeng Capital to buy an 18.5 percent stake in China’s leading online video company Youku Tudou.

In March, it bought a controlling stake in production company ChinaVision for $804 million, giving Alibaba access to TV and movie content.

The directors of the new Alibaba Pictures Group were listed in the filing as Dong Ping, chairman of ChinaVision, and Zhao Chao, also an executive director of ChinaVision, according to a Reuters report.

PHOTOS: China Box Office 2013: The Top 10 Movies

The company also set up a film investment fund called Yulebao, which has met its funding target of $11.77 million after just five days. The service likely could have raised tens of millions more had it not capped its initial investment round.

In that time, 223,800 investors bought 785,500 shares in hot upcoming Chinese movie projects, like Jean-Jacques Annaud's Wolf Totem and the next two installments of the Tiny Times franchise.

Yulebao is an investment vehicle, similar to crowdfunding, that lets thousands of ordinary Chinese become microfinanciers for movies, using smartphone apps via Alibaba's mobile Taobao platform to invest.

Alibaba was founded in 1999 by former English teacher, Jack Ma, and it now accounts for as much as 80 percent of all e-commerce in China.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan