SHANGHAI May 10 Alibaba Group, China's largest
e-commerce firm, is set to take a 20 to 30 percent stake in
Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm AutoNavi Holdings
Ltd, local media reported, as it aims to boost its
competitveness by beefing up its product lineup.
Citing unidentified sources, news portal Sina said that the
deal, likely to be announced on Monday, would make unlisted
Alibaba the largest shareholder in U.S.-listed AutoNavi.
An Alibaba official declined to comment. A representative
for AutoNavi declined to comment.
The move comes after Alibaba, which competes with Tencent
Holidings, acquired an 18 percent stake in Sina Corp's
microblogging service Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of
Twitter, at the end of April.
Industry watchers widely expect Alibaba - whose founder Jack
Ma steps down as chief executive on Friday - to seek an initial
public offering, possibly this year. Some say the company could
fetch a valuation as high as Facebook Inc's $100 billion.
Shares in AutoNavi have risen more than 30 percent since the
start of May and stand at $14.77 per share, which would value
the reported deal at roughly $150 million to $250 million.
Alibaba runs Taobao Marketplace, China's largest
consumer-focused e-commerce website; business-to-business
commerce platform Alibaba.com; and Alipay, a PayPal-like online