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Alibaba to acquire digital mapping platform AutoNavi for $1.5 billion

Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce giant which is currently working on a US IPO, has acquired AutoNavi, one of the leading providers of ‘digital map content and navigation solutions in China’ for a reported US$1.5-billion.

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The move will give Alibaba full access to AutoNavi’s platform — or the tech thereof — that provides users with a range of location-based services, including B2B and B2C, such as peer customer reviews of shops and restaurants.

According to AutoNavi’s co-founder and CEO since October 2009, Congwu Chenge, the move will “maximize value for AutoNavi’s shareholders.”

Upon completion of the acquisition, AutoNavi’s shareholders will receive US$5.25 in cash per ordinary share, or US$21 in cash per American depositary share (ADS) of the company.

He adds, “we believe that Alibaba is a great home for our employees and customers and that Alibaba will be able to provide us with great resources and strategic benefits to increase adoption of our location-based services in the China mobile internet ecosystem.”

Once the deal is closed in Q3 this year, Alibaba — which previously bought a 28% stake in the company — will wholly own AutoNavi and its ADS will no longer be listed on Nasdaq.

“We are excited to work with the talented team at AutoNavi to further integrate mobile commerce into the lives of our consumers,” said Jonathan Lu, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba.

AutoNavi’s digital map database currently covers approximately 3.6km of roadway, and over 20 million points of interest across China. Thanks to the extensive database and proprietary technology platform, AutoNavi it’s well positioned to provide comprehensive navigation and location-based solutions specifically for the China market.

Lu adds that Alibaba believes in AutoNavi as it continues to be “a strong player in an increasingly competitive map applications and local services market,” thanks to the deal.

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