Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba made a $1.6 billion bid for the maker of AutoNavi, the Chinese mapping and navigation app maker.
The move is the latest initiative to boost Alibaba’s mobile capabilities, which has also seen it introduce a mobile gaming platform and messaging app in recent months.
Alibaba already owns a 28 per cent stake in AutoNavi and has now made an all-cash offer to take complete ownership of the company. The offer of $21 per US-listed share is a 27 per cent premium on AutoNavi’s closing price at the end of last week.
AutoNavi said its board of directors received a non-binding proposal letter from Alibaba regarding a “going-private” transaction and said a committee of independent directors will review the offer.
According to Financial Times, Autonavi is one of the few companies with a Chinese mapping licence. Alibaba could potentially integrate its ecommerce functionality with the mapping app technology.
The e-commerce giant launched a mobile games platform for Android-based devices in January and launched the Laiwang messaging app in September to compete with Tencent’s WeChat.
The company also offers e-payment app, Alipay Wallet, and acquired an 18 per cent stake in microblogging provider Sina Weibo last year for almost $600 million.
The company’s main competitor in China is Tencent, which has a huge mobile user base through its Weixin/WeChat messaging app, which also includes ecommerce, gaming and financial services features.
Another Chinese web giant, Baidu, spent $1.9 billion on mobile app store 91 Wireless last summer.