(Yicai Global) Feb. 28 -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. remains in negotiations to acquire the rest of Ele.me, China's biggest online food delivery platform, according to minority stakeholder Beijing Hualian Department Store Co.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba is seeking to buy all the shares of Ele.me operator Shanghai Rajax Information Technology Co. that it does not already own, Hualian said in a statement. Any deal is still uncertain, said Hualian, which owns 2.04 percent of Ele.me.
E-commerce giant Alibaba and its payments affiliate Ant Financial Services Group already own 40 percent of Ele.me, whose other shareholders include rival tech firm Baidu Inc. Valued at as much as USD9.5 billion, the acquisition of Ele.me would turn Alibaba into a major player in the meal delivery sector, only rivaled by Meituan-Dianping, which is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The parties involved have yet to sign any agreements on equity transfers, Hualian added, with the price, timing, and payment method key sticking points in the ongoing talks. Alibaba and Ele.me have declined to comment on reports about a possible deal.
Literally meaning 'Are you hungry?,' Ele.me has a network that covers several hundred cities and would form another plank in Alibaba's strategy for New Retail, a term Chairman Jack Ma coined in 2016 to describe "the integration of online, offline, logistics and data across a single value chain."