China's Suning, Hony Capital to invest $420 mln in PPTV

Reuters

* Suning stake will be 44 percent of PPTV

* Deal values PPTV at $568 million

* Suning calls deal "strategic investment"

* Suning shares up 58 pct year-to-date

By Paul Carsten and Donny Kwok

BEIJING/HONG KONG, Oct 28 (Reuters) - China's SuningCommerce Group and Hony Capital, an affiliate ofLenovo Group, will invest $420 million in PPTV, aChinese online TV services provider, Suning said in a statementon Monday.

Suning will invest $250 million to buy a 44 percent stake inPPTV and become its largest shareholder. It is believed HonyCapital will make up the remaining $170 million although thestatement did not specify that. The deal values PPTV at $568million.

Trading in Suning shares was suspended on Monday and willresume on Tuesday.

"It is a key step for Suning to become a fully Internetisedcompany and is an important step in speeding up itstransformation process," Suning Vice Chairman Sun Wei-min saidvia microblog service Weibo.

Suning, which competes with GOME Electrical AppliancesHoldings Ltd backed by U.S. asset manager BainCapital, has been forced to rethink its business model andexpand into areas such as Internet services and e-commerce tochase a growing number of Internet shoppers.

PPTV is the largest online TV service in China with morethan 340 million users and offers sports, entertainment, newsand other video content, according to its website ().

Online TV is gearing up to be hotly contested as ChineseInternet firms like Alibaba Group Holdings, Baidu Inc and Xiaomi Tech have all recently expanded into the business,vying with more experienced companies like Sohu Inc andYouku Tudou Inc.

Hony Capital is sponsored by Legend Holdings, the parent ofthe Hong Kong-listed Lenovo Group, the world's numberone PC manufacturer.

According to Standard & Poor's Capital IQ database, HonyCapital has invested in media and online TV businesses includingTV advertising production firm Beijing Galloping Horse Film & TVProduction Co Ltd, media company Happigo Home Shopping Co Ltd,and iQIYI.com Inc, an online television and movie portaloperator in China of which Baidu owns a controlling share.

With the traditional PC sector on the decline, Lenovo hasaccelerated its foray into mobile devices, rapidly rising tobecome the No.2 smartphone vendor in China, the world's largestsmartphone market.

Shares of Suning have soared nearly 58 percent so far thisyear, outpacing a 6 percent drop in China's CSI300 Index.

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