BERLIN (Reuters) – Wirecard AG <WDIG.DE> is negotiating with representatives of Alipay, a unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba <BABA.N>, about it taking a stake of up to 25 percent in the German banking software company, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Without citing its sources, the Bild am Sonntag weekly said Wirecard was in confidential talks with Alipay about it taking a stake of up to 25 percent, and possibly more later.
A Wirecard spokeswoman declined to comment on the specifics of the report but confirmed that the company was in strategic talks with various partners, without elaborating.
A source familiar with the matter said Ant Financial, which operates the Alipay platform, was not talking to Wirecard about an investment.
In December, the two companies agreed to a deal to provide mobile phone payment services for Chinese tourists visiting Europe.
The newspaper said both sides had an interest in the deal: The Chinese want access to German expertise, while Wirecard would like to have a large shareholder, because its share price has come under pressure from short-sellers.
A deal would mark the latest Chinese investment in a German firm after a 4.5 billion euro takeover bid by China’s Midea <000333.SZ> for German industrial robot maker Kuka <KU2G.DE>.
Alipay counts more than 400 million active users of its payment systems in China, representing an estimated 80 percent of the mobile payments market and 50 percent of the online market in the world’s second-largest economy.
Its electronic wallet system is widely used in both retail shops and for online transactions.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, John Ruwitch and Joern Poltz; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)