Alibaba head rejects Yahoo! protest over pay unit

HONG KONG, May 14, 2011 (AFP) - The head of Chinese e-commerce giant
Alibaba said Saturday the firm's move to transfer ownership of its
online payment unit was "legal and 100 percent transparent", rejecting
protests by US-based Yahoo!

The California Internet company filed paperwork on Tuesday notifying
the US Securities and Exchange Commission that ownership of Alibaba's
Alipay unit had been shifted to a Chinese company owned mostly by
chief executive Jack Ma.

In the filing, Yahoo! said the transfer was done without the knowledge
or approval of Alibaba's board of directors or shareholders. Yahoo!
owns a 43 percent stake in Alibaba and an estimated 40 percent share
of Alipay.

Yahoo! said the move was made in August although it and another major
Alibaba stakeholder, Japan's Softbank, were only informed in March.

On Saturday, Ma rebutted the claims and said that the controversial
transfer was done with key investors' knowledge.

"The board and shareholders including Yahoo! and Softbank Corp. are
fully aware of the ownership transfer of Alipay," he was quoted as
saying by Dow Jones Newswires.

His comments come after the firm issued a statement on Friday, saying
the transfer was done to "comply with Chinese law governing payment
companies in order to secure a license to continue operating Alipay."

"The actions taken by Alibaba Group management to comply with the
licensing regulations and to ensure continuation of operations are in
the best interests of the company and its shareholders," the statement