Alibaba Throws $486 Million Behind Big Data

With plans to expand its offline presence, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will be investing $486 million in a China-based big-data firm centered on the hotel, catering and retail industries.

A filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange today shows that the company is set to buy a 38 percent stake in Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co. Ltd. through its subsidiary Alibaba Investment Ltd. The e-commerce giant is shifting into what it calls a “New Retail” strategic cooperation and intends to leverage big data as part of a bigger push to restructure the domestic retail market, which has seen troubling times over the past few years.

Led by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, Alibaba reported 61 percent growth in quarterly revenue last November, beating retail and financial analysts’ expectations. “We are seeing the early results from our efforts to integrate online and offline with our New Retail strategy, and consumers have benefited from access to high-quality products, improved customer experience and the tremendous convenience of shopping anytime, anywhere,” CEO Daniel Zhang said at the time.

Already dominating the country’s online shopping market, the e-commerce and technology giant has been experimenting with brick-and-mortar retail, reportedly investing billions in physical stores as it faces growing competition with rival company Tencent Holdings Ltd. Ma also announced a plan last fall to spend $15 billion on research and development within three years, with the goal of serving 2 billion customers and creating 100 million job opportunities over the next two decades.

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