Exclusive: Alibaba in Talks to Invest in Travel Agency Ctrip
The Chinese travel agency suffered heavily during COVID-19.
Alibaba is considering an investment in one of China's largest hotel and flight booking websites – Ctrip (known internationally as Trip.com). All kinds of cooperation – whether it will be a takeover, strategic investment or pure-financial investment – are under discussion, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal has not yet been made public.
Just last month, Ctrip was reportedly set to delist from Nasdaq, as rising tensions between China and the US and chaos and damage from the coronavirus all contributed to the damage being wrought to the business.
Alibaba is preparing the initial public offering of its largest subsidiary, Ant Group, which had changed the name from Ant Financial to emphasize the reach of the company going beyond financial services – the Ant Group brand would focus more on local life services. The acquisition of Ctrip could tip the scales in the travel business competition with Meituan.
The potential deal also chimes with Tencent's acquisition of Sougou, signaling another round of industry reshuffling, as well as the ever-heating battle between Chinese Internet giants seeking to expand the scale of their businesses.