Alibaba to take $486 mln stake in China retail data firm

FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen
FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

February 8, 2018

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest $486 million for a stake in a domestic big- data firm focused on hotels and retail, as part of a push to deepen its offline presence.

The firm will buy a 38 percent stake in Shiji Retail Information Technology Co via its subsidiary Alibaba Investment Ltd, the data firm’s listed parent said in a filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange on Thursday.

The deal is part of a “new retail” strategic cooperation, Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co Ltd said, referring to a shift by Alibaba and rivals to leverage big-data to shake up China’s huge but stalling retail market.

Alibaba has been beefing up its retail presence with more than $10 billion of investments into brick-and-mortar outlets amid rising competition in the space from rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement by Beijing Shiji Information.

Beijing Shiji Information says it provides software and data systems to hotel firms such as InterContinental Hotels Group, retailers such as Starbucks Corp, and entertainment companies.

The latest deal comes after another Alibaba subsidiary, Taobao (China) Software Co Ltd, agreed to take a roughly 15 percent stake in Beijing Shiji Information in 2014 for 2.81 billion yuan to help bolster its online travel business.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Pei Li; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)