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TOM Group's shares jump up on global market

Shares in TOM Group soared Monday after it was announced that US$60 million (40.65 million EUR) were invested in the online social network Facebook.

Shares in Hong Kong-listed TOM Group rose 23 percent to HK$0.74, after earlier hitting an intraday high of HK$0.93.

On Friday, the All Things Digital blog, linked to Dow Jones & Co., reported that the 79-year-old Li had invested US$60 million in Facebook, representing about 0.4 percent of the company.

Li is not investing in the hugely popular social networking site through one of the companies that he controls but through another investment vehicle, the blog reported, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the deal.

TOM Group said in a statement it hasn't made any investment in Facebook.

Li's flagship company, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. declined to comment on the report. Facebook couldn't be reached immediately for comment.

"The market speculates that there may be a partnership between Facebook and Li's media flagship TOM Group, but no one has confirmed the news yet," China Everbright analyst Wong Chi Man said.

The investment comes on the heels of a US$240 million (162 million EUR) investment in Facebook by Microsoft last month. The deal was equivalent to a 1.6 percent stake, valuing the privately-held social-networking company at US$15 billion (10.16 billion EUR).

TOM Group includes the highly successful Chinese-language Web portal Tom.com, as well as TOM-Skype, a joint venture with the popular Internet telephone company Skype that allows Chinese users to communicate by phone, video and instant messaging.

The company also includes a traditional outdoor advertising division as well as a publishing platform, both of which are geared toward the mainland China market.

Citigroup analyst Catherine Leung said if the deal materializes, cooperation with Facebook may help to drive more traffic to TOM's online portal.

"Even if there is a partnership between TOM and Facebook, we need to know the details of the collaboration before we can estimate the financial impact on TOM," Leung said.

Last week, Palo Alto, California-based Facebook announced changes that would give its 55 million users greater control over whether they wanted information about their online activities tracked and shared.

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