Alibaba Group, through a subsidiary, has purchased 18 percent of Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging website similar to Twitter, for $586 million.

Alibaba has the option to increase its ownership to 30 percent. The deal comes just as Alibaba, through subsidiaries Taobao (China) Software Co. Ltd. and Zhejiang Tmall.com Technology Co. Ltd., agreed to work with Sina, Weibo's owner, to develop a social commerce marketing plan that would let Alibaba’s online merchants access Weibo users.

Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce giant that owns and operates a group of Internet-based businesses that people can use to buy or sell goods online. Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) owns about 20 percent of Alibaba, which bought back about 20 percent of its stock in May 2012 for about $7.1 billion.

Weibo, which allows users to post messages online, is owned by web development company Sina Corp. (Nasdaq: SINA).

Shanghai-based Sina lets users access professional media and user-generated content in multi-media formats from the web and mobile devices. 

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