JD.com seeks to raise $2.6b for logistics unit

Staff sorting boxes and parcels at a JD.com logistics station in China last year. Major e-commerce companies in China are looking to bulk up their logistics businesses to support their global expansion ambitions and boost revenues by offering service
Staff sorting boxes and parcels at a JD.com logistics station in China last year. Major e-commerce companies in China are looking to bulk up their logistics businesses to support their global expansion ambitions and boost revenues by offering services to third-party entities.PHOTO: REUTERS

China's second-biggest e-retailer has plans to list business overseas

HONG KONG • China's second-biggest e-commerce firm JD.com has kicked off a fund-raising round at its logistics unit with a target of at least US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion), and eventually plans to list the business overseas, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

JD.com, which trails only Alibaba Group Holding in China's e-commerce market, has invited a select group of investors to join the funding round that values its logistics business, JD Logistics, at around US$10 billion, two of the people told Reuters yesterday.

The move comes as China's major e-commerce companies are looking to bulk up their logistics businesses to support their global expansion ambitions and boost revenues by offering services to third-party entities.

Chinese investment firm Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia Capital China will likely be lead investors of JD Logistics' funding round, while a number of state-owned and international investors have also shown strong interest in the deal, according to the people.

Demand could be strong enough that smaller investors putting up just US$100 million - the floor for investments, according to two people - would have to prove they could help the logistics unit to bring in new business, one of them said.

JD.com declined to comment. Hillhouse and Sequoia did not respond to requests for comment. The sources could not be named as the information is confidential.

JD Logistics is 100 per cent owned by JD.com. It is not clear when and where the initial public offering process will be undertaken.

Hillhouse Capital is the second-biggest equity investor in JD.com, according to Thomson Reuters data. Alibaba rival Tencent Holdings is also a top 10 investor in JD.com, the data shows.

The fund raising and any ensuing spin-off would give JD Logistics - set up as a separate entity within the company last April - some independence and help it offer services to third-party clients as well as to compete with Alibaba's logistics network Cainiao and delivery services firms such as SF Express, the people said.

Logistics groups have increasingly sought investments to fund work on solutions to supply-chain issues, including autonomous driving, automated warehousing, cross-border logistics and smart logistics services. JD.com, being aggressive in that push, was the first one in China to invest in drones.

Last year, JD.com invested in logistics infrastructure in South-east Asia, expanding from existing commitments in Indonesia. It also announced a partnership with Japanese delivery firm Yamato Holdings last month to ship products from Japanese retailers to China.

JD.com posted net earnings of 1 billion yuan (S$205 million), its highest quarterly profit, in the three months to Sept 30, confounding analysts' forecasts of a 213 million yuan loss.

The company has a market cap of US$66 billion.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2018, with the headline 'JD.com seeks to raise $2.6b for logistics unit'. Print Edition | Subscribe