Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, is going to buy a 28% stake in a digital mapping company called AutoNavi Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:AMAP) for $294 million, according to Chinese news portal Sina. Alibaba will become the largest shareholder in AutoNavi. Alibaba also recently bought an 18% stake in Sina Corp’s microblogging service Weibo, which has similar functionalities as Twitter.
Alibaba is not the only company interested in ownership of a digital mapping company. Alibaba’s investment in AutoNavi comes on the heels of a rumor that Facebook may be acquiring Waze for around $1 billion.
Alibaba is planning to go public next year and the founder of the company is stepping down as CEO today. This past December Alibaba reported 1 trillion RMB in gross merchandise volume (around $157 billion).
AutoNavi provides digital map content, navigation, and location-based solutions in China. The company’s digital maps covers around 3.3 million kilometers of roadway and over 20 million points of interest across China. In March 2011, AutoNavi acquired an 80% equity interest in Beijing Xiejin Technology Development Co. Ltd. The company also acquired Shanghai eTag Information Technologies Limited (eTag). Last year in February, AutoNavi partnered with TomTom NV for HD traffic content.
[Image Credit: Alibaba]