China’s online travel services provider Ctrip is reportedly planning to invest around $100 million in Indian online food delivery and restaurant search platform Zomato in a deal that values the company at $1.8 billion to 2 billion, The Times of India is reporting, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
The total amount of this funding could go up to $400 million with the participation of Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and several unnamed investors, the report added. Another source, speaks on anonymity, adds that the transaction should close in two weeks.
The spokesperson for Ctrip did not comment to TechNode’s inquiries.
Ranked among the world’s top four online travel agencies along with Expedia, TripAdvisor and the Priceline Group, Ctrip is China’s largest online travel site with a market cap of $20 billion. If true, this investment would be one of the first steps for Ctrip to invest outside of travel services.
But given the close relationship between travel and food, such a bet wouldn’t be surprising. Outbound travel, especially to Southeast Asian destinations, is creating incredible opportunities for Chinese tech companies. Chinese tourists are shifting from a shopping spree to in-depth travel in its overseas consumption pattern, which involves better experiences in every sector from accommodation, shopping to local cuisine.
Actually, the company already tried to establish a presence in the cuisine-related sector by launching a Michelin guide-like gourmet list around the world.
Although not as active as other Chinese tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba, Ctrip has gradually established a solid portfolio surround its core business. The company acquired Scottish travel site Skyscanner for $1.7 billion two years ago and owns Tours4Fun, travel research site Trip.com and Trip by Skyscanner. In recent years, the company is taking bolder steps and looks into all kinds of investments under the concept of smart transportation. Ctrip made a strategic investment in US supersonic jet startup Boom Supersonic this April.
After a $200 million round led by Ant Financial in February this year, Zomato has entered an acquisition spree. While the investment is purely financial, the tie-up may help both of the companies in exploring international markets.