Alibaba Pictures Eyes Global Expansion; Names Zhang Wei As President

CC Bynd

While it reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenues this morning which sent shares sliding in pre-market trading, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group also announced bullish plans for its entertainment division. Alibaba Pictures, the film and TV production and distribution arm of Jack Ma’s conglom, is making some changes to its organizational structure as it actively pursues expansion to become “a leader in the global entertainment industry.” The company has appointed Zhang Wei as President and named Deng Kangming as COO. Both are internal promotions. Zhang has been an SVP of Alibaba Group while Deng was a former SVP and “Chief People Officer.”

Zhang will be responsible for the company’s overseas business, which it is looking to grow through investments and mergers and acquisitions. Deng will oversee the e-commerce business and various administrative functions. Both execs will report to CEO Zhang Qiang.

rogue nationAlibaba Pictures recently made its first investment in a Hollywood film, plunking down an undisclosed sum to back Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and entering a partnership with Paramount for promotion in the Middle Kingdom. Already off to a strong start elsewhere, MIRN bows in China on September 8. The company will seek out further collaboration with international partners, it said today. Earlier this year, it invested in Guangdong Yueke Software Engineering Company, one of the largest suppliers of cinema ticketing systems in China where the business is booming.

The company further says it is establishing four key strategic areas of focus: content development and production; film and TV program marketing and publishing; development of an e-commerce entertainment platform; and development of an overseas entertainment business. It’s also moving towards a flat organizational structure in order to reduce bureaucracy and foster efficient growth. There will be a big focus on technological changes within the film industry of which it says it plans to be at the forefront as it morphs into “an internet-based integrated entertainment company.” The organizational shift will bring it more in line with the structure at big internet outfits.

Zhang joined Alibaba in 2008 and has been key to a number of major investments and acquisitions at the Group level. She was previously in senior management positions at GE, Bain & Co, NBC Universal and News Corp. Deng joined Alibaba in 2004 and has previous experience at Microsoft, Oracle, Danone and Johnson & Johnson.

Further hires from outside China are in the offing. Last week, Canadian exec Michael Evans was named president of Alibaba Group, charged with leading and executing the international growth strategy..

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