Alibaba joins forces with Russian firms to build e-commerce joint venture
Alibaba has inked a deal with three Russian ventures to form a new e-commerce company, named AliExpress Russia.
The newly established joint venture is expected to benefit retailers and consumers across Russia and the CIS (Russian Commonwealth) by integrating local and international internet business and platforms in Russia, including those currently owned by Alibaba, according to a joint statement on Tuesday.
The deal was signed during the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, Russia and has involved Russia's sovereign wealth fund – the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), telecom company MegaFon and internet firm Mail.Ru Group.
The Chinese internet giant will own 48 percent of AliEpress Russia, while Russian entities will have 52 percent.
"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 to grow in their home market and expand globally," said Alibaba Group President Michael Evans. He says that Alibaba will bring "experience and technology" to the new partnership.
"We hope the JV will become the undisputed leader in Russian e-commerce due to the combined best technologies, expertise and capabilities that will grant Russian customers access to affordable goods, and empower Russian SMEs to compete globally," noted Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF.
The deal is backed by the Kremlin through the RDIF and will merge online marketplaces in Russia of over 140 million users, according to a Bloomberg report.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.