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Tim Culpan

Alibaba and Tencent Can Be Friends But Business Might Suffer

Opening up their services to competition from each other is a good first step to easing Beijing’s concerns. But stockholders may not be too happy.

All together now?

All together now?

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

A possible move by China’s internet giants to break down the walls between them may be an important first step in pacifying increasingly aggressive regulators in the People’s Republic. But as much as Beijing likes such gestures, they may leave stockholders cold.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are looking to open up their platforms to each other, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing sources it didn’t name. For example, customers could use Tencent’s WeChat Pay on Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall shopping sites; in return, Alibaba listings could be shared on  Tencent’s WeChat messaging app.