China: Alibaba Group has agreed to acquire AutoNavi Holdings in a deal that values the Chinese company at $1.5 billion, bolstering its Internet mapping tools ahead of a possible initial public offering.
AutoNavi will give Alibaba control of China’s most popular mobile mapping service as the nation’s largest e-commerce company prepares for an IPO in New York as soon as this month. Alibaba is trying to win a big portion of China’s 618 million Internet users with more services, and AutoNavi lets it compete directly with services from Baidu and Tencent Holdings.
Beijing-based AutoNavi has digital-map databases covering about 3.6 million kilometers (2.2 million miles) of roads and more than 20 million points of interest across China. The deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter. AutoNavi shareholders still need to vote on the takeover.