Bloomberg News

Billionaire Alwaleed Buys 360buy Stake for China Expansion

February 18, 2013

Saudi Billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Saudi Billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the world’s 14th-richest person, is investing in e-commerce and technology companies as demand for internet based services increases. Photographer: Gabriela Maj/Bloomberg

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought a stake in Chinese online retailer 360buy Jingdong Inc., joining a group of investors in tapping one of the world’s fastest growing e-commerce markets.

360buy raised about $700 million from the Alwaleed- controlled Kingdom Holding Co., Canada’s Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and some existing major shareholders, the Beijing- based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Kingdom invested $125 million in Beijing-based 360buy, the investment company said Feb. 16.

Alwaleed, the world’s 14th-richest person, joins Baidu Inc (BIDU:US). co-founder Robin Li and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies in investing in 360buy, as demand grows in China’s $196 billion e- commerce market. China has the highest number of people who buy goods online, nearly 220 million in 2012, according to industry researcher eMarketer Inc.

“This new investment highlights the recognition the global capital market has for 360buy’s business development,” the company said in today’s statement.

360buy, which describes itself as an online shopping mall selling more than 7 million products from home appliances to books in China, plans to use the funds to invest in new businesses and strengthen its logistics network, the company said in today’s statement.

It is China’s second-largest Internet retailer with a 12.6 percent share of the market, lagging Alibaba Group Holding, last year, according to Euromonitor International.

Growing E-Commerce

The online retailer, headed by founder Liu Qiangdong, raised $1.5 billion in financing in 2011, and has been attracting millions of shoppers with perks such as free shipping and quality assurance.

“This deal is in line with Kingdom Holding’s private- equity investment strategy through selecting high-growth companies potentially seeking to be listed in one of the international capital markets within three years,” Ahmed Halawani, executive director of private equity and international investment at Kingdom Holding, said in the Saudi company’s statement.

The number of online users in China gained 10 percent last year to 564 million, more than the population of any country except India, the government-run China Internet Network Information Center said last month.

Alwaleed Investments

China’s online-retail transactions are projected to more than double to 2.57 trillion yuan ($412 billion) by 2015 from 1.22 trillion yuan last year, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based researcher.

U.S. e-commerce spending through the first three quarters of last year exceeded $129 billion, according to comScore Inc.

Alwaleed, who holds 95 percent of Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding, has a net worth of $29 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His fortune has surged about $8.5 billion since April 2012 as Kingdom Holding shares almost doubled.

The prince also invested $300 million in microblogging service Twitter Inc. in 2011 and holds stakes in companies such as Apple Inc. and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Kingdom has also invested in China in Disneyland and in the hotel industry through Four Seasons Hotels Ltd and Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.

To contact the reporters on this story: Deema Almashabi in Riyadh at dalmashabi@bloomberg.net; Liza Lin in Shanghai at llin15@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net; Anjali Cordeiro at acordeiro2@bloomberg.net


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