The Wall Street Journal: Jack Ma’s firm among Chinese consortium making $4.4. billion foray into online gambling

SHANGHAI — A Chinese consortium led by Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co. and joined by a fleet of financial moguls including a private-equity arm of Alibaba founder Jack Ma has agreed to purchase an Israeli gambling business for $4.4 billion in cash.

The consortium of 11 investors — including Giant Investment Ltd., Yunfeng Capital, a private-equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding’s BABA, -0.77%   Ma, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. 0715, -2.50%  , China Minsheng Trust Co., CDH China HF Holdings Company and Hony Capital Fund — will purchase a 100% stake in Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s subsidiaries, including mobile-gambling unit Playtika, according to a statement released Sunday by Shenzhen-listed Chongqing New Century Cruise Co. 002558, +0.04%  , a shell company bought by Giant Interactive Group last year.

The deal, underscoring the Chinese game developer’s ambition to expand overseas, is another big Israel-focused move by a Chinese firm. China National Chemical Corp. paid $1.44 billion for a 40% stake in crop-protection producer Adama Agricultural Solutions in July and Shanghai Bright Food took over Tnuva, Israel’s largest food producer, for more than $2 billion.

Possessing advanced research and development, big data and artificial-intelligence analysis capabilities, Playtika has maintained rapid growth over the past five years, said the statement. Its main business is social gambling such as poker and has no presence in China yet. The virtual currency used on the Playtika platforms will remain unexchangeable into real currency, said the filing.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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