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Tencent-backed Kuaishou buys rival AcFun in Chinese online video battle

[BEIJING] Chinese online short video start-up Kuaishou, backed by Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, has bought animation and video platform AcFun, the acquired firm told Reuters on Tuesday, amid an intensifying battle over online content.

The platform would keep its independence in branding, operation and development, while Kuaishou would provide support in capital, technology and other resources, an AcFun spokesman said. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Chinese tech giants, including Tencent and rival Bytedance, which owns the popular Douyin platform, are making a major push in the fast-growing online video sector, expected by IHS Markit to hit around 96.2 billion yuan (S$20 billion) by 2020.

Platforms like Kuaishou and Douyin allow their millions of users to upload short video clips that are popular with Chinese youth.

AcFun historically is one of the top animation and video sites in China. The platform and recently listed rival Bilibili are known among the country's netizens as "station A" and "station B", although their fortunes have recently diverged.

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In March, Bilibili raised more than US$400 million in a New York initial public offering. AcFun, however, has been facing financial and other troubles including a major server crash earlier this year.

Kuaishou, meaning "fast hand", is valued at about US$18 billion, according to a Reuters report earlier this year. The firm is boosting its firepower in live streaming of online video content, as the sector attracts a rush of investment from tech juggernauts Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Baidu Inc.

A Kuaishou representative was not immediately available to comment.


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