Partnerships / Acquisitions

Alibaba To Buy Multimillion-Dollar Stake In Duty-Free Retailer Dufry

Alibaba To Buy Stake In Brick-And-Mortar Dufry

Alibaba Group Holding Co. continues to capitalize on growth opportunities. The latest: China’s digital economy giant has struck a multimillion-dollar deal to buy as much as a 9.99 percent stake in the Swiss duty-free retailer Dufry, Bloomberg reported on Monday (Oct. 5).

Dufry is looking to reel in up to $763 million from investors, including Alibaba. Advent International Corp., a private-equity company, also plans to invest in the Swiss duty-free company, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic, Bloomberg noted.

The Swiss company said the proceeds from the share sale will help it buy out its Hudson unit and bolster its bottom line.

This summer, Hudson announced that Dufry, its controlling shareholder with 57.4 percent ownership, would acquire the rest of the company in an all-cash deal with worth $311 million. Hudson has more than 1,000 stores in airports, commuter hubs, landmarks and tourist destinations.

Dufry and Alibaba are also forming a joint venture in China that will combine Alibaba’s digital capabilities with Dufry’s travel retail business in that market. Dufry employs about 31,000 people. The company said in June that it plans to drastically cut personnel costs by up to 35 percent, per Bloomberg.

Alibaba has spent billions to acquire portions of brick-and-mortar retail chains as part of its expansion efforts. In August, the company reported results that demonstrated its reach. Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang said in a press release that the company was “well-positioned to capture growth from the ongoing digital transformation, which has been accelerated by the pandemic.”

He added that “we mobilized our entire digital infrastructure to support the economic recovery of businesses across a wide range of sectors, while broadening and diversifying our consumer base by addressing their changing preferences in a post-COVID-19 environment."

The firm reported that annual active consumers in its China retail marketplaces hit 742 million in the quarter concluding June 30, an increase of 10 percent compared to 674 million for the same quarter in 2019.

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