Alibaba Takes 6.1% Stake in Dufry Travel-retail Operator

PARIS — The world’s largest e-commerce operator, Alibaba Group, is taking a 6.1 percent stake in the number-one travel-retail operator Dufry AG as part of a capital increase worth 820 million Swiss francs, or $914.5 million.

The Chinese and Swiss companies revealed plans to form a joint venture in early October to develop the travel-retail business in China.

Travel retail has been the channel hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as people were confined to their homes, planes were grounded and airports closed for months.

What had been a channel posting double-digit gains in many parts of the world, driven by the Chinese consumer, is now expected to register sales declines of 60 to 70 percent this year versus 2019 levels, according to estimates from Generation Research.

As part of the recent transaction, Dufry priced the shares at 33.22 francs each.

Alibaba will also invest 69.5 million francs in Dufry through convertible notes.

Advent International Corp. is also investing in Dufry and once the capital increase is closed, the private equity group will own an 11.4 percent stake.

Advent and Dufry have agreed to a lock-up period lasting six months.

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