China’s Alibaba & Russian tech firm Mail.ru announce partnership
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is setting up a joint venture with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, mobile operator Megafon, and internet group Mail.ru. The deal was struck at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.
The companies announced that Alibaba will contribute its AliExpress Russia e-commerce website to the joint venture. Russian mobile operator Megafon will swap a 10-percent stake in Mail.ru for a 24-percent stake in AliExpress Russia.
The partnership will be backed by Russia’s sovereign-wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which will acquire a 13-percent stake in AliExpress.
Alibaba Group President Michael Evans called the joint venture “an exciting step in Alibaba’s international expansion.”
"By partnering with Russia’s leading consumer internet platform, AliExpress Russia will help digitize and transform the retail value chain in Russia, enabling a seamless and innovative experience for consumers as well as creating significant opportunities for Russian entrepreneurs and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to grow in their home market and expand globally,” Evans said when announcing the deal.
Evans added that the Alibaba Group’s “experience in China and other markets around the world makes us uniquely qualified to help build the future infrastructure of commerce in Russia and neighboring countries.”
Mail.Ru Group CEO Boris Dobrodeev said the companies would focus on developing their existing online properties, as well as integrating them into the online social experience of Russian consumers. “Most Russian consumers are already our users, and this partnership will enable us to significantly increase the access to various segments of the e-commerce offering, including both cross-border and local merchants,” Dobrodeev said. “The combination of our ecosystems allows us to leverage our distribution through our merchant base and goods as well as product integrations.”
Mail.Ru Group has 100 million internet users across its social-media, messaging, email and online-gaming properties. The new joint venture is aimed at supporting Russia’s consumption upgrade by delivering a greater selection of high-quality products to the market. For Russian small and medium-sized enterprises, it’s a chance to tap a newly-connected system in the domestic market while accessing more than 600 million consumers using Alibaba’s platforms, including in China, Southeast Asia, Turkey, Europe and India.
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