Alibaba Pictures buys majority stake in online ticketing firm TicketNew
Photo Credit: Reuters

Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd, the entertainment arm of Alibaba Group, has picked up a majority stake in online ticketing platform TicketNew, a press statement said.

Chennai-based Orbgen Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs TicketNew, claims it is India’s second-largest online ticketing platform after BookMyShow and has a presence in over 300 cities. It integrates single-screen theatres, film distributors, production houses and events with users. The company was founded in 2007 by Ramkumar Nammalvar, a computer science engineer with over 20 years of operational and sales experience, V Sasi Raman and Ravishankar Ramanujalu.

TicketNew will use the funds to strengthen its operations and service portfolio, the statement added.

“Alibaba plans to invest Rs 120 crore over a period of time...This secures the future of our staff and the company for generations to come,” said CEO Nammalvar, who will continue to head TicketNew.

Media publications had reported in January, citing two people familiar with the matter, that Alibaba Pictures was likely to pick up 70-75% in TicketNew for around $35 million.

TicketNew's flagship product, Box Office, is an enterprise resource planning platform that helps cinemas optimise operations. The company also offers mobile apps and customised web solutions to theatres. It charges a convenience fee of Rs 20-30 from end-users while booking tickets, in addition to a small fee from theatre-owners for software installation and app development.

In March last year, Alibaba had expressed plans to enter India by exploring e-commerce opportunities in the country. It currently owns stakes in One97 Communications Ltd, which runs mobile wallet Paytm, and e-commerce company Snapdeal.

Several publications reported in December 2016 that Alibaba was establishing its first office in the country in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla Complex, further fuelling speculations of its imminent entry into India.

In the second quarter of FY2016-17, Alibaba reported strong revenue growth led by its core business as well as the digital media and entertainment segment. Revenue rose 55% to 34.29 billion yuan, or $5.14 billion, for the three months through September 2016 from 22.17 billion yuan, or $3.49 billion. Revenue from the company’s core commerce business rose 41% year-on-year to 28.49 billion yuan. Sales from the cloud computing business climbed 130% to about 1.5 billion yuan while revenue from the media and entertainment segment surged four-fold to 3.6 billion yuan.

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