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BUSINESS & TECH

Intime Plans to Delist From Hong Kong Exchange, Make Alibaba Majority Owner

By Yang Ge and Chen Mengfan
Department-store operator Intime Retail (Group) Co. Ltd. has announced it will privatize and that Alibaba will become the majority owner. Photo: IC
Department-store operator Intime Retail (Group) Co. Ltd. has announced it will privatize and that Alibaba will become the majority owner. Photo: IC

(Beijing) — Department store operator Intime Retail (Group) Co. Ltd. has announced a plan to go private that will make e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., its majority stakeholder.

The move comes after disappointing results at Intime following an initial equity tie-up by the pair more than two years ago.

A management-led group funded by Alibaba has offered to buy all of Intime’s shares for HK$10 ($1.29) each, representing a 42% premium over the stock’s last closing price, Intime said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday. After the deal, Alibaba’s stake will increase to a majority 74% from the current 28%, according to the statement.

Intime shares last closed at HK$7.03 when trading was suspended late last month pending an announcement. They jumped to about HK$9.50 when trading resumed on Tuesday morning. At its current market value, Alibaba’s 74% stake would be worth about $2.5 billion.

Intime’s business centers on traditional brick-and-mortar retail, including 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls in major Chinese cities. When they first announced their tie-up in 2014, Alibaba and Intime were hoping to leverage their complementary strengths in online and offline retail to boost each other’s business.

But the hoped-for benefits had yet to appear in Intime’s latest financial report, which showed the company’s revenue was flat in the first half of last year as profits slid 21%.

As Intime’s business has stalled, the company’s shares have also performed poorly. Before the privatization plan was announced, the share price of HK$7.03 was about 20% below the stock’s all-time high, when the initial tie-up with Alibaba was announced in 2014.

“Alibaba is working with offline retailers to transform conventional approach, create new consumer shopping experience and use actions to embrace future opportunities under the new retail model,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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