Monday 22 Apr 2024
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(Feb 23): The investment firm that manages part of the fortune of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Chairman Joe Tsai sold most of its shares in the alternative asset giant Blue Owl Capital Inc. during the fourth quarter.

Blue Pool Capital Ltd sold 34.3 million Blue Owl shares, or 83% of its remaining holdings, according to data from regulatory filings compiled by Bloomberg. The shares would have been worth about US$460 million at the volume-weighted average price of the stock over the three months.

Blue Pool representatives didn’t reply to requests for comment. A spokesperson for Blue Owl declined to comment.

Blue Owl’s share price gained 41% in 2023 as investors piled into private credit funds and rising interest rates curbed the appeal of some other assets. Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Tsai have been buying shares in their Chinese e-commerce giant. Its US-listed stock had plunged about 80% over two years to the recent low in 2022 amid tightening domestic regulatory scrutiny, a weakening Chinese economy and subdued consumer confidence.

More than half of Blue Owl’s US$165 billion assets are in credit, a space that Oliver Weisberg, who leads Blue Pool, has publicly expressed his enthusiasm for. The rest is in businesses that buy stakes in alternative asset managers, lend money to them as well as make investments in sports companies and in the property industry, according to its website.

A Blue Pool entity was the second-largest shareholder of Blue Owl’s class-A shares in October 2021, trailing Koch Industries Inc, a regulatory filing showed.

Ma, who was once China’s richest person and an outspoken billionaire, faded from public view after Beijing clamped down in 2020. He bought about US$50 million of Alibaba stock last quarter, while Tsai — Ma’s longtime confidante — also separately purchased about US$150 million of shares in his first such move since 2017, Bloomberg News reported in January.

Blue Pool bought Alibaba American Depositary Receipts worth US$152 million during the fourth quarter, the only other US stock holding it was required to disclose then.

Blue Owl’s share price is up 20% this year, helped by double-digit 2023 fee-related earnings and dividend growth. The New York-based company expanded fee-paying assets by more than 80% since 2021, executives said during its Feb 9 earnings call.

Alibaba’s board approved another US$25 billion in stock repurchases earlier this month, expanding a buyback that was already among the country’s largest. Once China’s dominant internet company, it has lost market share to rivals such as PDD Holdings Inc and ByteDance Ltd. It posted a lower-than-projected 5% rise in December quarter revenue, well off the pace of previous years, while net income fell 70%.

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