Alibaba looks to Beijing’s OTC market for emerging retail opportunities

In the space of one month, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and its related affiliates, have invested more than RMB 3 billion ($432.1 million) in two emerging new retail players.

On November 19, Shanghai Yunxin, the company wholly owned by Ant Financial, said it would invest RMB 1.2 billion in vending machine solution provider UBox.

On October 17, Alibaba agreed to invest RMB 2 billion in alcohol retailing platform 1919.

The moves are seen as underscoring the group’s strategy to expand through new retail partnerships. On November 26, Alibaba announced a plan to restructure so as to put greater emphasis on new retail and cloud computing.

Both UBox and 1919 are listed in China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ). Known as the third board, NEEQ is home to many Chinese emerging internet and tech stocks.

As of the end of June, UBox’s revenues surpassed RMB1.1 billion, up 14.5% year-on-year. The company product lines include machines for coffee, coconut drinks, as well as UCMBar (友唱) individual karaoke booths. It also has a 24-hour unmanned sex toy shop business.

Last year, 1919 had a net loss of RMB 43.9 million on total revenue of RMB 3.3 billion.