Alibaba invests $692 million for a presence in physical retail

PCWorld News

Alibaba Group is investing about US$692 million in retail company Intime Retail with the aim of setting up a joint venture that aims to provide linkages between their online and physical retail businesses in China.

The Chinese e-commerce giant will invest $214 million in shares of Intime, besides acquiring $478 million in convertible bonds, according to a filing by Intime on Monday to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The equity investment will give Alibaba a 9.9 percent share of the enhanced share capital of the company besides giving it the option to acquire a larger stake by converting its bonds into up to 18 percent of the share capital after conversion.

The investment is the latest by Alibaba, which earlier this month invested $215 million to acquire a minority stake and a seat in the board of U.S. mobile messaging app developer Tango. Alibaba has previously invested in expanding its presence in the U.S. including through a $200 million investment in Amazon.com competitor ShopRunner and Quixey, a search engine for apps.

In China, Alibaba also bought a stake last year in a large social networking site Sina Weibo and is working to acquire online mapping provider AutoNavi for $1.1 billion.

The aim of the investment in Intime is to harness the latest Internet technologies and develop an online-to-offline, omni-channel business so as to create a highly convenient and impactful shopping experience, the companies said.

Alibaba will hold a 80 percent stake in the joint venture with the balance held by Intime.

The investment comes ahead of Alibaba’s plan for an initial public offering in the U.S.

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