Alibaba to invest in AutoNavi, become largest shareholder

Chinese e-commerce giant is said to be taking a 20 percent to 30 percent stake in Chinese mapping company AutoNavi, with the deal expected to be announced next Monday.

Alibaba Group appears to be on an investment spree after it was reported to be taking a 20 percent to 30 percent stake in local mapping and navigation company AutoNavi. This comes after it bought a stake in Sina Weibo last month.

In a report by Sina Tech Thursday, unnamed sources said the Chinese e-commerce giant is looking to broaden its product range by taking a stake in AutoNavi. The 20 percent to 30 percent shares will make Alibaba the largest shareholder in the Nasdaq-listed mapping company, it noted.

Official announcement of the deal will be released next Monday, the sources added.

Should the AutoNavi deal take place, it would make it the second significant investment Alibaba has committed to in the past month. In April, the Web giant took an 18 percent stake in Sina's microblogging service Weibo for US$586 million, with an option to increase its stake to 30 percent.

The two companies will work on user-account connectivity, data exchange, online payment and marketing, and will also explore new business models for social commerce based on the interactions of the hundreds of millions of users on Weibo and on Alibaba's e-commerce platforms.