(CBN - Global) April 13 -- Meituan Dianping, China's biggest group deals website formed last year by the USD15 billion merger of two rival start-ups backed by Alibaba and Tencent, plans to spin off Maoyan Movie and appoint former Chairman Zheng Zhihao as chief executive. Mr. Zheng is also Vice President of Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Meituan Dianping CEO Wang Xing made the announcement in an internal email on April 11.
Tencent has a comprehensive footprint in the film and television industry from production to broadcast, from content to channels. The Shenzhen-based tech firm announced the set up of a wholly owned unit Tencent Pictures last September. It also owns Tencent Video, Maoyan Movie, the original Dianping Movie channel Gewara, Wepiao and several other major ticketing websites for movies and performances.
Maoyan Movie was set up in 2012, and has serviced more than 100 million movie ticket buyers, covering more than 5,000 cinemas. It is also China's largest online-to-offline movie platform.
Meituan Dianping was formed from Meituan.com, China's Groupon part owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Dianping.com, the country's equivalent of Yelp. Alibaba has since sold its stake in Meituan Dianping.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba is also accelerating moves into the film and television industry. It continues to advertise heavily on Weibo.com and even sells tickets at a loss to promote its ticket sales platform Taobao Movie.
On top of this, Ali Pictures invested USD86 million in Bona Film Group Ltd. last week, giving it about a 9 percent stake in Bona Film. In the five years since Bona Film was listed, it has invested in 64 movies, all its own intellectual property, and has had box office receipts of CNY13 billion (USD13 billion).