Alibaba goes country with $715m rural e-commerce bet

E-commerce titan aims to deepen penetration in China’s less-developed regions via its investment in Huitongda, an online shopping site targeting the rural market.

Jack Ma is taking his e-commerce ambitions somewhere new China's vast rural hinterland.

Alibaba, already the dominant e-commerce player across urban China, is now looking to tap into the unexploited area of rural e-commerce. It has paid Rmb4.5 billion $715 million for a stake in Huitongda, a privately-owned online shopping platform that targets customers located in rural parts of the country.

Huitongda’s owner, Jiangsu Five Star Appliances, did not disclose the size of Alibaba stake when it announced the transaction on Tuesday. However, most industry analysts believe Alibaba has taken a majority stake since Huitongda was worth less than $1 billion prior to the...

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