Oct 27, 2017
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China's HNA in talks to buy e-tailer Dangdang, likely valued over $1bn

Oct 27, 2017

China’s HNA Group Co is in talks to buy a controlling stake in e-commerce firm China Dangdang in a deal that could value the online marketplace at over $1 billion, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Dangdang, an Amazon rival in China, is also in talks with other potential investors, said the people, who declined to be identified as the matter was private.

REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

Dangdang told Reuters it has been approached by investors and has not accepted any offer. It said, without elaborating, that other details of talks with suitors were inaccurate. HNA did not provide immediate comment.

The development comes after $50 billion worth of deal-making over the past two years sparked public scrutiny of HNA’s opaque ownership and use of leverage, prompting the conglomerate to slow the pace of acquisitions in recent months. The Dangdang talks come as HNA looks to build e-commerce platforms.

The latest deal is likely to value Beijing-based Dangdang at 8 billion to 10 billion yuan ($1.2 billion to $1.5 billion), the people said. Financial terms are not yet finalised and the talks could still collapse, they said. HNA aims to own slightly more than 90 percent, one of the people said.

The acquisition, if successful, would give HNA access to a major local e-commerce platform that evolved from a leading bookseller to a marketplace of over 14,000 stores selling goods as varied as DVDs, cosmetics, clothes and furniture.

China is the world’s largest e-commerce market. Online retail as a percentage of total retail has grown steadily in the last few years, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc leading the segment.

HNA plans to buy the majority of Dangdang from management, mainly Chairwoman Peggy Yu and Chief Executive Officer Li Guoqing, who founded the firm in 1999, the people said. Dangdang was taken private for $556 million last year, having debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2010. HNA is also scouting for co-investors for the deal, said one of the people.

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