PAG Asia Capital, one of Asia’s largest investment firms has announced that it had closed the deal to acquire a controlling stake in Zhenai.com, China’s largest online matchmaking and dating service provider. The transaction size was not disclosed.
The acquisition would help the firm tap into China’s growing matchmaking business, which is estimated to have reached 9.4 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) in 2016, and is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 30 per cent, according to Chinese consultancy Zhiyan.
The mainland is fast becoming a nation of singles as increasingly affluent and free thinking Chinese millennials are less keen to follow in their parents’ footsteps to get married at a young age. But tremendous social pressure has prompted many to look to matchmaking services like Zhenai to find a spouse. Zhen ai in the company’s name means “precious love” in English, and a homophone of “true love” in Chinese.
China has around 200 million single adults, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Founded in 2005 by Li Song, a former Morgan Stanley executive director, Zhenai.com now boasts of more than 140 million registered users. It is expected to generate revenues of more than 1.6 billion yuan and a net profit of more than 200 million yuan in 2017, according to the company.
This compared to the 51.4 million yuan in 2015 net profit of Jiayuan.com, a major rival of Zhenai. Jiayuan was bought by Baihe.com, another matchmaking website last year, resulting in the country’s matchmaking business being mainly split among the three companies.
“I am thrilled to have PAG as the controlling shareholder. I am confident that PAG, with its experience and strong track record, will be able to take the company to the next level.” said Li Song in a statement issued jointly by the two companies on Monday.
With US$18 billion in capital under management, PAG has been investing heavily in a wide range of businesses in China, spanning across areas such as industrial gas, consumer credit lending and childcare.
PAG’s partner and chairman, Xiao Suining, has been appointed as chairman of Zhenai after the acquisition, while Li remains a minority shareholder and a director of the board of the company.
“PAG is very pleased to have this opportunity to invest in Zhenai,” said Xiao. “We see tremendous potential to grow and expand Zhenai’s business in China and across Asia.”