Alibaba, Yahoo try to mend ties with joint statement

Yahoo has claimed Alibaba Group transferred a key online payment service without the company's knowledge

Yahoo and Alibaba Group issued a joint statement on Sunday, in what appeared to be a symbolic effort by the companies to move past a dispute involving a Chinese online payment service.

The dispute became public last week, when it was revealed that Alibaba Group had transferred ownership of its popular online payment service Alipay to a Chinese company controlled by Alibaba Group CEO, Jack Ma.

Yahoo has a 43 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. But the two companies have had a rocky relationship in the past.

The restructuring has threatened to devalue Yahoo's investment in Alibaba Group, leading both companies to release statements pointing fingers at one another.

Yahoo said the restructuring happened without the company's knowledge. But Alibaba has countered that claim, and said the need to make the Alipay transfer had been discussed with the company's board, which Yahoo sits on.

The statement on Sunday, although providing little new information, indicated that the two companies, along with Softbank, another major Alibaba shareholder, were working towards a resolution.

“Alibaba Group, and its major stockholders Yahoo! Inc. and Softbank Corporation, are engaged in and committed to productive negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues related to Alipay in a manner that serves the interests of all shareholders as soon as possible," the statement said.

Alibaba spokesman John Spelich said Alibaba Group has already received some compensation for the transfer of ownership of Alipay, but he declined to give further details.

Both Alibaba and Yahoo have battled over other business issues in the past. Last year, Alibaba criticized Yahoo for supporting Google after the search engine company said it had been hit by cyber attacks coming from China.

Alibaba had also wanted access to Yahoo's search engine technology. But in 2009, Yahoo entered in a deal to instead use Microsoft's Bing service, which further caused Alibaba to believe its partnering with Yahoo no longer had any benefits.

Last year, the two companies held talks about Yahoo selling its stake back to Alibaba. But negotiations failed to produce a deal.

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Tags business issuesYahooMergers / acquisitionse-commerceAlibaba.cominvestmentsinternetSoftbank

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Michael Kan

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