AutoNavi - china mapping service - tnooz
4 years ago

Alibaba plots travel sector growth with offer for map service AutoNavi

China ecommerce giant Alibaba is signalling travel expansion intentions with an offer to fully acquire leading mapping and navigation service AutoNavi.

In May 2013, Alibaba acquired a 28% stake in NASDAQ-listed AutoNavi for $294 million. Now, Alibaba plans to buy the remaining stake, in an all-cash deal.

Alibaba is offering $21 per American Depository Share (ADS), which takes the valuation of AutoNavi to $1.58 billion.

At the time of the offer (before the start of trading on Monday) from Alibaba, the share price of AutoNavi was $16.54. At the time of writing (after the closure of trading day), the share price had increased to $20.57.

AutoNavi has confirmed it has received the acquisition proposal.

Alibaba and AutoNavi share certain data, including AutoNavi’s map data and location-related information of the merchants on Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms, including Taobao Marketplace (an eBay like service in China).

Director of Alibaba, Joseph C. Tsai, says:

“The market for navigation and map applications and services has become increasingly challenging, as several large, well-capitalized internet players in China have become major competitors to the company.”

Competitors of AutoNavi in China include Baidu Maps and Tencent Maps.

In August 2013, Baidu offered its map software for free with AuoNavi immediately following suit and offering its navigation software for free. Such is the competition in the China map industry.

Just over a week ago, Tencent invested in China-based mapping service Linktech Navi, to strengthen its Tencent Maps service.

A year ago, Tencent launched its Street View-like service (similar to Google Street View) in China, now the service has the most comprehensive coverage in China, with more than 100 cities covered in the system.

Alibaba’s travel industry presence

Recently, Alibaba backed Qyer, a nine-year old Chinese portal which sources travel deals from sites such as Ctrip and Juhuasuan (a service owned by Taobao).

In July 2013, Alibaba Group-owned Etao (a shopping search engine) launched a hotel metasearch engine, a competitor to Qunar, the leading travel metasearch engine which is majority owned by Baidu.

In March 2013, Alibaba invested in, a travel journal and experience sharing app.

Taobao launched a dedicated travel portal in 2010 which is positioned in the similar business of Chinese OTA giant, Ctrip.

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Karthick Prabu

About the Writer :: Karthick Prabu

Karthick was general manager for Tnooz in Asia until September 2014.



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