Fosun International chairman and business magnate Guo Guangchang plans to purchase a majority stake in marriage and dating website Baihe.com for just under RMB 4 billion ($630 million), local media is reporting.
Baihe.com’s shareholders entered into an agreement with Yuanhong Investment to sell 869 million shares at a price of RMB 4.6 ($0.72) per share. Guo controls 100% of Yuanhong, which will make him a controlling shareholder of Baihe.com when the deal goes through. There has been no indication as to when the purchase will be concluded.
In December 2015, a Baihe.com subsidiary announced plans to acquire rival dating and marriage platform Jiayuan for $250 million. The company then reorganized to become the Baihe Jiayaun Network Group in September 2017.
The Chinese online dating market has expanded drastically, and the sector is experiencing a period of increased growth. According to Statista, the number of users of online dating platforms will increase by 45% by 2020. In 2019, total revenue in the sector is predicted to reach RMB 4.4 billion, up 600% from 2010. This growth is attributed to more time being spent at work, skewed population demographics, societal pressure to find a partner, as well as the rise of casual dating.
Baihe operates a host of dating and marriage services around China. It provides an online-to-offline ecosystem that incorporates dating services, business cooperation, emotional counseling, and matchmaking services. The company reported an operating revenue increase from RMB 187 in 2016 to RMB 671 million in 2017 and has 310 million registered users.
The company operates a real-name policy and encourages users to submit information detailing their educational history, assets, and Sesame Credit rating.
Baihe-owned Jiayuan made news last year when WePhone founder Su Xiangmao committed suicide after being blackmailed by his recently married wife who he met using the service. Investigations found that despite real name verification requirements, users were able to register using photoshopped IDs.