Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd
will acquire a stake in Chinese video streaming firm
Youku Tudou Inc, cementing ties between China's leading
smartphone maker and one of the most popular content providers
in the video-hungry country.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the companies said the
transaction would take place on the open market but did not
specify how large the smartphone maker's stake would be or how
much would be invested.

Word of the stake acquisition, coming a week after Xiaomi
pledged to invest a total of $1 billion to expand its Internet
TV content, adds to the frenzy in China's fast-growing online
video market. E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd
already owns nearly a quarter of Youku Tudou.

Online video sites include those run by Sohu.Com Inc
, Baidu Inc's iQiyi and Tencent Holdings Ltd
have been jockeying for position in a market estimated
to be worth $3 billion in 2014.

Youku Tudou and Xiaomi will jointly invest in the production
and distribution of online video content and films, while Xiaomi
will license Youku Tudou's video content, the companies said.

But Xiaomi may be entering a regulatory quagmire. China's
authorities have in recent months moved to cut unapproved and
"harmful" online TV content, which had been freely
proliferating.

The world's third-largest smartphone maker has been ramping
up its push into the living room by offering a set-top box as
well as a Mi TV television set.

The investment in Youku Tudou shows how Xiaomi's strategic
direction may put it increasingly at odds with Alibaba, the $285
billion behemoth that also offers set-top online video boxes.

As of May, Alibaba Group owned a 23.4 percent stake in Youku
Tudou, now worth slightly more than $1 billion, part of the
e-commerce titan's own push into selling digital products such
as online film and TV.

Alibaba, meanwhile, has long been rumoured to be interested
in the mobile handset market, although Executive Vice Chairman
Joe Tsai told reporters this week he didn't think Alibaba had
plans to buy a phone maker.

"The question was are we going to go out and buy a (handset)
manufacturer to accomplish what we want. I don't think so."

(Additional reporting by Adam Jourdan in HANGZHOU; Editing by
Ryan Woo)


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