Alibaba to take US$486 mil stake in China retail data firm

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A pedestrian walks past Alibaba.com advertising in Hong Kong, 29 October 2007. Chinese business to business website Alibaba.com says it aims to raise 11.6 billion Hong Kong dollars (1.5 billion USD) in what it called the largest Internet IPO since Google. AFP PHOTO/MIKE CLARKE (Photo credit should read MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

SHANGHAI: China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest US$486mil (RM1.90bil) 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% 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 US$10bil (RM39.25bil) of investments into brick-and-mortar outlets amid rising competition in the space from rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

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% stake in Beijing Shiji Information in 2014 for 2.81bil yuan (RM1.74bil) to help bolster its online travel business.