Groupon Inc. (GRPN), owner of the biggest coupon website, said it started an online group-buying service in China as consumers in the world’s fastest-growing major economy increase spending over the Internet.
The Gaopeng.com website will initially cover Beijing and Shanghai before expanding to other major Chinese cities, Chicago-based Groupon said in an e-mailed statement today. Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700), China’s biggest Internet company, and Yunfeng Capital, a private equity fund started by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma, are other investors in Gaopeng, according to the statement, which didn’t provide details of the shareholding.
Groupon’s Gaopeng.com will face competition in attracting Internet shoppers from Chinese group-buying services including Lashou.com and Meituan.com. Online retail sales in China almost doubled last year to 513.1 billion yuan ($78 billion) and will probably double again in the next two years to 1 trillion yuan, Xinhua News Agency reported Jan. 18.
Groupon, which rejected a $6 billion takeover bid from Google Inc. in December, plans to increase the number of employees at its China venture to 1,000 in three months from 120 staff, Danny Yeung, head of its Hong Kong unit, said Feb. 10.
Alibaba Group, controlled by Ma, is China’s biggest e-commerce company. The Hangzhou, eastern China-based company’s Alibaba.com Ltd. unit last week said David Wei resigned as Chief Executive Officer after an internal probe found more than 2,300 vendors used its website to defraud global buyers.
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