Best Logistics, a Chinese logistics company backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) and that also counts Foxconn as investor, is gearing up to go public in the U.S., aiming to raise roughly $1 billion.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the situation, Best Logistics is hiring investment banks to help take it public with an IPO expected in September or October at the very earliest. The IPO could turn out to be one of the biggest of a Chinese company to go public in the U.S. this year. The paper noted it’s not clear as of yet what exchange Best Logistics will be listed on. Best Logistics had a market value of more than $3 billion last year after it was able to raise $760 million from a slew of new investors. Alibaba’s Cainiao Network is also an investor in Best Logistics.
Leveling Up to Amazon
Alibaba, which is a leading ecommerce giant but isn’t a major player in shipping and logistics, as Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is aiming to be, invested in Best Logistics multiple times since 2009 and has acquired around 22% of Best Logistics shares for $256 million. Cainiao Network has invested $165 million for a roughly 5% stake, reported the WSJ. (See also: Alibaba Invests In Best Logistics.)
The potential IPO of Best Logistics comes at a time when shipping competition is heating up in China as Amazon enters the market. According to a recent report in the Financial Times, Amazon is taking aim at the global logistics industry in China, which is valued at $8 billion, by expanding a program in China in which wholesalers can use Amazon to ship their products around the globe via sea, land and air. Dubbed Amazon Logistics+, the service has been expanding over the course of the past few months and now includes cross-border air transport, packaging, warehousing, customs and handling services. That offering will not only pressure the likes of UPS, FedEx and DHL but also Alibaba. Alibaba already facilitates cross-border sales via its wholesale marketplace, but it doesn’t control the logistics as Amazon is starting to do.
Alibaba lack of ownership of shipping infrastructure could put pressure on its business if Amazon’s service resonates with wholesalers in China. The report noted that Amazon’s push into China’s logistics is similar to how it started out with its Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing business it rolled out in 2006. While it wasn’t a big business for Amazon when it launched, it now accounts for $12 billion in revenue each year for Amazon.