UCWeb to Spend RMB3 billion on M&A in Three Years

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UCWeb, a leading Chinese mobile browser and service provider, today announced a RMB3 billion (about US$480 million) investment plan, called Project GEEK, for the next three years. It includes hiring one thousand people.

The latest rumor about the company is Morningside Ventures, who invested in UCWeb in 2007 and 2009, had sold its stake to Alibaba, who became an investor of UCWeb’s in 2009. It is estimated that Alibaba would become the biggest shareholder of UBWeb’s after the deal. The cause, according to media reports prior to the rumor, was that Baidu would like to acquire UCWeb so that investors like Morningside could exit — Alibaba wasn’t happy to see it happen and stepped in.

When asked about it today, Yu Yongfu, CEO of UCWeb, told media today what he had said for a couple of times before that UCWeb would never be acquired. He added that UCWeb would acquire other companies. The company has made strategic investments in over 20 startups in the past three years.

To be the No. 1 mobile browser in India

At GMIC Beijing 2013 today, Mr. Yu disclosed the market share of their mobile browser in India had surpassed 27%, just shy of market leader Opera. UCWeb’s annual goal is to catch up and be the No. 1, in which Mr. Yu said he was confident.

The company has 400 million users with 100 million outside China. The high growth markets include Russia, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia.

“Only three monetization approaches with mobile”

Annual revenues doubled for three consecutive years, according to Mr. Yu. He believes there are only three monetization approaches on mobile end, advertising, consumer-facing premium services and e-commerce.

Gaming, one of the consumer-facing premium services, implies quick money. The company announced its strategies on gaming earlier this year, saying they’d help game developers in a lot of ways. The company shared US$15 million with game providers on its gaming platform, 9GAME, in 2012 and expects to share three times of that this year. The revenue splitting ratio is unknown. If it’s a 70/30 split, as most platforms offer, or a 60/40 split, you can do the math.