Alibaba Seeks International Expansion, Hitches With ‘Avengers’ in China

Daniel Zhang, newly appointed as CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, says that international expansion is the company’s top priority.

“We must absolutely globalize,” Zhang said during a company-wide strategy session at the company’s Hangzhou, China, campus on Wednesday.

Meanwhile the company teamed up with Walt Disney to handle marketing and merchandise sales on “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in the massive Middle Kingdom market.

“This is the first time Alibaba Group has opened up its resources in connecting brands and filmmakers to establish a convenient model in developing a movie-related merchandise market made available online for movie fans,” Alibaba said in a statement.

“Ultron” opened in China on Tuesday and earned $33.9 million, the biggest ever opening for either Disney or Marvel.

Zhang’s overseas push will initially focus on AliExpress, a cross-border online marketplace selling Chinese goods to consumers all over the world, and Tmall Global, which helps foreign brands sell online directly to Chinese consumers.

However, he is also looking at cross-border growth of the Aliyun cloud computing business, and other virtual businesses. In the past year Alibaba has acquired overseas firm UCWeb and mapping business AutoNavi.

Alibaba has become a major force in Chinese entertainment with its TMall handling millions of cinema ticket transactions, and a series of investments in online video (Youku Tudou), film production and distribution (Huayi Brothers Media, Enlight Media). It also bought ChinaVision, a company which it turned into its own movie production unit. With a separate stock listing in Hong Kong, Alibaba Pictures Group is now one of the richest movie companies in China with a market capitalization of HK$66.8 billion ($8.62 billion).

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