Alibaba, Russian tech firm Mail.ru to launch new venture

VLADIVOSTOK (AFP) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Russian technology group Mail.ru yesterday announced a deal to launch a joint venture in Russia and former Soviet countries.

The two groups, along with the Russian sovereign wealth fund RDIF and telecom operator MegaFon, announced the creation of “a new strategic partnership” as Russia hosts an economic forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok.

Alibaba and Mail.ru said in a statement this would “integrate Russia’s key consumer Internet and e-commerce platforms and launch a leading social commerce joint venture in Russia and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)”.

The new company will be called AliExpress Russia – taking after the name of an existing Alibaba platform.

It will be 48 per cent owned by Alibaba, 24 per cent by MegaFon, 15 per cent by Mail.ru and 13 per cent by the RDIF, the statement said, without disclosing the amounts involved.

Alibaba, founded by tech billionaire Jack Ma in 1999, already plays a major role in e-commerce in Russia through its AliExpress and Tmall platforms.

“We want this to be a Russian business,” Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said at a press conference in Vladivostok, saying that the Chinese group was bringing “experience and technology.”

General director of the RDIF Kirill Dmitriyev said that the Russian partners would receive a combined 52 per cent share in the new structure.