Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding has invested $200m (£133m) in photo-messaging app Snapchat, representing the companies latest investment in mobile services, and placing the app's valuation at around $15bn.
According to Bloomberg, sources familiar with the situation have said the deal is planned but not yet confirmed. Such a deal would match with rumours from last month that the app was seeking funding that would place its value at between $16bn and $19bn.
The investment, if finalised, would make Snapchat the third highest valued startup, behind smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi, valued at around $45bn, and ride-hailing app Uber, which is placed at $40bn.
Alibaba was involved in discussions around investing in Snapchat in 2014, ahead of AliBaba's IPO in September, but in the end this deal didn't go ahead. However, the company has been expanding its presence in the mobile world, with an enterprised-focused social networking app and investments in the mobile gaming space.
Snapchat is currently blocked in China, so the immediate benefit the startup will bring to Alibaba is not clear, although the company's attempts to launch messaging apps have so far not met much success, with rival firm Tencent's service WeChat maintaining a strong hold on the Chinese market.