China’s Alibaba Group has hinted for several months now that it is looking to make acquisitions and it has finally made a purchase: The Chinese e-commerce giant’s Alibaba.com unit is buying a controlling stake in HiChina — which provides domain name, email hosting, and website design services — for $63.75 million in cash from IT outsourcing company Synnex. HiChina’s owners can also get another $15.31 million if they meet certain targets.
Alibaba.com says it will use HiChina to bolster its offerings to small businesses that want to open online stores. The company has taken other steps lately to up what it can offer that segment: Just last month, for instance, it took control of the business management software division of Alibaba Group-subsidiary Alisoft, which sells customer relationship management and marketing software.
With HiChina, Alibaba.com also says there will also be “increased synergy and opportunities” across since the majority of HiChina’s 200,000 customers do not overlap with Alibaba.com’s existing customer base. HiChina is being folded into Alibaba.com’s IT business unit, although Alibaba.com is retaining the HiChina brand name — and all 550 of the company’s employees. Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) owns a 44 percent stake in Alibaba Group, which controls Alibaba.com, although it recently sold its direct holdings in Alibaba.com. More in the release.