Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will spend $3.3 billion to raise its stake in Cainiao, in an effort to exert more control over the logistics subsidiary that underpins its sprawling e-commerce empire.
The Hangzhou-based company will lift its stake in Cainiao to 63% from 51% by subscribing for newly issued shares in its latest financing round and buying existing stock from another holder, the company said on Friday.
Six-year-old Cainiao is the rapidly growing business that sits at the heart of Alibaba’s expansion — both in China and abroad. It oversees a coterie of at least a dozen shipping partners, orchestrating deliveries carried out by millions of people across the country.
The increased stake could help Alibaba expand deeper into the business of setting up and controlling its own infrastructure, much like Amazon.com Inc. Billionaire Jack Ma said in May last year that he wanted to invest 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) in logistics without giving a time frame.
Cainiao’s revenue, after elimination of inter-company transactions, rose 48% to 4.8 billion yuan in the quarter ended September.
The logistics giant is expanding at a rapid clip, keeping pace with its parent’s online retail business. It’s developed a neighborhood delivery service with a combination of stations and self-pickup lockers, known as Cainiao Posts, a key to bolstering last-mile delivery. The daily package volume handled by Cainiao Post doubled in September, compared with last year, according to Alibaba’s filings.
Cainiao’s Guoguo app, which offers crowd-sourced parcel pick-up and delivery services, had 100 million annual users at of the end of August. Its parcel volume more than doubled in the September quarter, compared with last year, according to its filing.
Alibaba created Cainiao with the department-store chain Intime Retail Group Co. and industrial conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. The trio led an initial investment of 100 billion yuan into the company to build out its logistics network.
The company has since managed a delicate relationship with its delivery partners, as players jostled for business and valuable user data. Alibaba’s facing increasing competition in delivery from Pinduoduo Inc., China’s No. 3 platform. Pinduduo is seeking to take control of its own data by developing in-house shipping information technology.