Alibaba angered its major shareholder Yahoo a couple of years ago by spinning off its Alipay payments unit without disclosing the transfer. Now, the Chinese e-commerce giant is said to be looking to reclaim its stake in the payments company.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Alibaba has reportedly been talking with its chief shareholders about reacquiring its portion of Alipay in order to bump its future value before its initial public offering.
The way Alipay and Alibaba work together is similar to PayPal and eBay, so it makes sense that the two companies would be connected. Reportedly, the majority of Alibaba's sales are made through the Alipay system.
Alibaba spun off its share of Alipay in 2011, thus launching the rift with Yahoo and Softbank, another major shareholder. Questions were quickly raised about how Yahoo and Softbank could be kept in the dark about the move. The flap was settled when Alibaba transferred Alipay outside of the company so it could get a non-bank payment company license and Yahoo, Softbank, and Alibaba could participate in future gains.
Alibaba is expected to become a public company in the US within the next few months. This IPO is slated to be one of the biggest on record -- the company is expected to raise more than $15 billion, giving it a $130 billion valuation. That lofty target would challenge Facebook's record Internet IPO, which raised $16 billion in 2012.
While Alibaba is said to be looking to get back its stake in Alipay, the Journal reports that the deal wouldn't likely go through until after its IPO.
CNET contacted Alibaba for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.