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Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, China. The company has been strengthening its retail presence. Photo: Bloomberg

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

The e-commerce giant will take 38 per cent of Shiji Retail Information Technology in further push towards ‘new retail’


China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding, will invest US$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 per cent stake in Shiji Retail Information Technology Co via its subsidiary Alibaba Investment Ltd, Shiji’s listed parent said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Thursday.

The deal is part of a “new retail” strategic cooperation, the parent company, Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co, 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 strengthening its retail presence with more than US$10 billion of investments into bricks-and-mortar outlets amid rising competition in the space from rival Tencent Holdings.

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

The latest deal comes after another Alibaba subsidiary, Taobao (China) Software Co, agreed to take a roughly 15 per cent stake in Beijing Shiji Information in 2014 for 2.81 billion yuan (US$446.3 million) to help bolster its online travel business.

Beijing Shiji Information said it provided software and data systems to hotel firms such as InterContinental Hotels, retailers such as Starbucks and entertainment companies.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.