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Alibaba sets up JV with Swiss duty-free giant Dufry

Dufry store
A Dufry store in Milan, Italy.

Alibaba is to take a cornerstone shareholding in Swiss-based duty-free retail group Dufry as the two companies reveal a planned joint venture. 

“Alibaba Group and Dufry AG (Dufry) have agreed to enter into a collaboration to jointly explore and invest in opportunities in China to develop the travel retail business and to enhance Dufry’s digital transformation,” Dufry said in a statement.

The new JV will be 51-per-cent owned by Alibaba and will seek growth in the Chinese market. Alibaba will also help Dufry develop its online travel retail business.

Meanwhile, the Chinese tech company will take a stake of up to 9.99 per cent in Dufry and private-equity group Advent International will likely get almost 20 per cent as part of a capital raising to help Dufry fund a buyout of its US-listed Hudson travel-retail unit. 

Dufry has been heavily impacted by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic which has all but eliminated the retail duty-free business worldwide as cross-border travel was largely suspended. 

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