Wal-Mart invests in Chinese e-commerce firm

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world’s largest retailer, has invested in China’s top online seller of consumer electronics and communication products, in a push to extend its reach to more Chinese buyers.

Chinese online business-to-consumer (B2C) company 360buy Jingdong Mall secured $500 million in funding from six strategic partners, including Wal-Mart, a 360buy spokeswoman said on Friday.

Wal-Mart’s investment amount was not disclosed but the company has been eager to tap into the pocketbooks of China’s burgeoning middle class, and earlier this year launched in China an e-commerce site for its Sam’s Club warehouse stores.

“It’s a smart move for them (Wal-Mart), because 360buy, in my opinion, is one of the best B2C online companies in China today,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTechAdvisors, a technology research firm.

360buy Chief Executive Liu Qiangdong told a press conference on Thursday that the funds would be used to build logistics centers in China, local media reported.

China’s massive e-commerce market is highly fragmented and competitive, where 360buy battles Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group and E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc for dominance. 360buy had 14.1 percent of China’s B2C market in the third quarter while Dangdang had 3.7 percent, according to data from Analysys International.

Reporting by Melanie Lee and Jerry Huang; Editing by Chris Lewis