Alibaba steals a march on eBay
IT’S FAR FROM a household name in Ireland, but China’s biggest e-commerce firm, Alibaba Group, is worth keeping an eye on.
The group, founded by the man often hailed as China’s smartest CEO, Jack Ma, expects to overtake Amazon and eBay combined in sales terms this year.
Last week Alibaba announced it had bought back half the stake Yahoo owned in the company for €5.8 billion, bringing it closer to an initial public offering.
Alibaba said it paid Yahoo about €4.82 billion in cash and €613 million in preferred shares in Alibaba Group. It also made a one-time cash payment of €421 million in connection with an amendment to the two companies’ intellectual property licence agreement.
The company dominates the business-to-business (B2B) market with its Alibaba.comsite, which it took private for €2.3 billion in June.
It is also investing heavily in its Tian Mao website, which allows businesses to sell products directly to customers (B2C).
Last year, 100 billion yuan (€12 billion) worth of goods were sold through the site – which was recently renamed from Tmall.cXom – 3.5 times what was sold the previous year.
Tian Mao was spun out of Taobao last year to allow it to focus more directly on B2C business and is one of the 10 most visited websites in China.
Yahoo bought its stake in Alibaba 2005 in exchange for €770 million and the sale of its Yahoo China business to Alibaba.
The US company now holds 23 per cent of Alibaba’s common stock, work about €6.2 billion, having previously owned about 40 per cent of the group.
Together with preferred stock, its stake is valued at about €6.8 billion.