Japanese telecom group Softbank is in talks with Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, about setting up a joint venture, the Financial Times reported. The venture, which would be based in Japan, could be launched as early as next year. Alibaba raised US$1.5 billion through an initial public offering in Hong Kong last week and has stated that its next objective is to build itself an international profile. The company's principal function is connecting Chinese suppliers with international buyers, and the bulk of its income is still derived from the domestic market. The joint venture with Softbank, which has a 33% stake in Alibaba's parent group, could also see the Chinese company offer more services to mobile customers. For Softbank, a partnership with Alibaba could mean a much needed new source of revenue.