Alibaba launches joint venture with Russian partners Megafon, Mail.ru

AFP Photo

China's largest e-commerce firm, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has ceded control of its Russian business to form a new venture with a state fund and two technology firms, hoping that access to their consumer base with help boost its development.

Alibaba will own 48 percent of AliExpress Russia as a result of the deal signed with Russian Direct Investment Fund, mobile operator Megafon and internet group Mail.ru during Russia's Eastern Economic Forum on Tuesday.

The three Russian entities will have a combined 52 percent stake in the e-commerce platform after contributing cash, shares and other assets.

"By partnering with Russia's leading consumer internet platform, AliExpress Russia will leverage Mail.ru Group's 100 million internet users across its social media, messaging, e-mail and online games properties," the companies said.

"With access to this unique platform and user base, the JV will fill a highly complementary role in the Russian consumer lifestyle value chain, creating a one-stop platform for social, communications, gaming and shopping."

Alibaba will contribute AliExpress Russia to the new JV, while Megafon will swap its 10 percent stake in Mail.ru for a 24 percent stake in AliExpress Russia.

Mail.ru will contribute its Pandao e-commerce business and cash in exchange for a 15 percent stake in AliExpress Russia, and RDIF will acquire a 13 percent stake in AliExpress Russia.

The parties will invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the venture, Mail.ru Group CEO Boris Dobrodeev said.

Mail.ru Group's London-listed shares were up 10 percent by 0836 GMT.

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