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An Ele.me deliveryman picks up a pizza from a restaurant. Photo credit: Ele.me

Jack Ma just ordered some Chinese takeaway – he’s bought food delivery startup Ele.me in a multibillion-dollar deal.

Ma’s Alibaba announced this morning that it’s taking “full ownership” of Ele.me – which means “Hungry?” in Chinese – by topping up the minority stake it had in the startup after earlier investments. The buyout figure isn’t disclosed, but the online shopping giant says Ele.me is now valued at US$9.5 billion, up from the US$5.5 billion it was pegged at last year.

Ele.me’s blue-and-white riders and their electric scooters are a common sight across China. The service gets 4.5 million orders each day, which its 15,000 riders dash to collect and deliver from around 1.3 million participating stores, including major chains like KFC and Starbucks. Its app claims to have 260 million users.

China’s booming food-delivery market was worth US$31.9 billion in 2017, up 23 percent from the year before.

Alibaba’s Ele.me is looked in a fierce battle for all that takeout food, with archrival Tencent backing two different apps – Meituan and Dianping – while search giant Baidu has a service of its own. Those four apps dominate the Chinese market.

This is a developing story…

This post Alibaba buys $9.5b food-delivery startup appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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