Alibaba to buy China mall operator in $2.6 bn plan

January 10, 2017
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Alibaba is China’s dominant player in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market/AFP-File

, SHANGHAI, China, Jan 10 – Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba will take control of domestic department store Intime through a $2.6 billion privatisation scheme, the companies said Tuesday, sending shares of the mall operator surging.

Alibaba, and Intime founder Shen Guojun have together offered to pay HK$10 per share to buy the shares they do not already own of the Hong Kong-listed chain.

Overview
  • Intime operates 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls throughout China.
  • The move came after Ma China's richest man met US President-elect Donald Trump in New York Monday to discuss how Alibaba can help create US jobs.

The deal will increase Alibaba’s stake from 28 percent to 74 percent after it first invested $692 million in the firm in 2014.

News of the deal sent Intime’s shares soaring 35.7 percent to HK$9.54 in Hong Kong Tuesday.

The maximum cash required for the proposal is expected to be HK$19.8 billion ($2.6 billion), the statement said.

The deal will see Alibaba expand further into physical stores, which founder Jack Ma envisions integrating with the company’s online platforms and logistics network.

Intime operates 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls throughout China.

The move came after Ma China’s richest man met US President-elect Donald Trump in New York Monday to discuss how Alibaba can help create US jobs.

Alibaba is China’s dominant player in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 percent of the consumer-to-consumer market, while its Tmall platform is believed to have more than half of business-to-consumer transactions.

The deal shows department store chains “are still relevant and of value” to e-commerce players, Catherine Lim, analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence told Bloomberg News.

“We could be seeing renewal of a sunset industry,” she added.

Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang said in the statement that “bricks-and-mortar businesses will be able to create value for consumers if they are integrated with the power of mobile reach”.

Nearly 80 percent of its business comes from mobile sales as of September, Alibaba said in the statement.

The offer represented a 54 percent premium over the two-month average closing price before shares were suspended in December.

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