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Alibaba's Shopping Spree: How the Web Giant's Universe Has Expanded

Alibaba has grown to dominate Chinese e-commerce. It's accomplished this with the early development of its own technology platform and by adding the services that make online shopping easier, like transport and payments.

The company is using acquisitions to further build out its eco-system, snapping up video and news content providers, offline services and overseas companies that have snared a slice of the e-commerce world outside China. As 2016 draws to a close, here's a breakdown of some of its most significant deals:

Lazada — This is a billion-dollar bet on a brand new market, as Alibaba counts on repeating in Southeast Asia what it has already achieved at home. Alibaba's biggest e-commerce successes have been those it developed from the ground up. But with Jack Ma targeting more than half of sales from outside the home market, this is his biggest overseas acquisition yet.

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Youku Tudou — The deal for this video-streaming company, said to be worth about $5 billion, is Alibaba's biggest investment to date and is part of its strategy to generate content and develop its own entertainment ecosystem. With rivals Tencent and Baidu also pushing hard into content, the acquisition was critical to Alibaba in offering Chinese entertainment to its home market, after sealing a deal to create Alibaba Pictures Group.

Didi Chuxing — Alibaba's backing of the Kuaidi taxi-hailing app, which later merged with Tencent-backed Didi, has set up the company's push into services beyond e-commerce. In August, the company now known as Didi Chuxing agreed to acquire Uber Technologies Inc.'s China business, ending a battle that burnt billions in funding.

Suning Commerce — This deal with the electronics retailer bolstered the reach of Alibaba and signaled a major expansion of its logistics capability — its ability to reach customers across China and beyond the cities.

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Jasper Infotech — The company behind e-commerce operator Snapdeal gave Alibaba a foothold in India, a market that is showing the kind of growth that Jack Ma saw in China a decade ago.

Meizu — Alibaba is determined to get its YunOS operating system onto more phones and provide an alternative to Android and Apple's iOS in China. Investing directly in a smartphone maker like Meizu is one way they plan to achieve this.

South China Morning Post — Alibaba has been all about technology and offline, but buying the oldest English language newspaper in Hong Kong gives it political clout and forms the cornerstone of a push into traditional media.

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