Is Groupon poised to make a comeback?
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The stock purchase amounted to more than $100 million. Alibaba's recently disclosed 5.6% stake makes it the company's fourth largest shareholder as of the end of last year, Bloomberg reports.
A spokesperson for Alibaba described the strategy of taking positions in international firms as a common practice for the company. "We bought a very small minority stake in Groupon in order to share ideas between U.S. and China markets," he said, mentioning in particular the online-to-offline deals business. "This is a passive holding and if Groupon management would like to exchange experiences with us, we are prepared to share."
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Groupon did not immediately reply to Fortune's request for comment. A spokesperson did tell Bloomberg, however, that the company was unaware of the stake until the filing. "Alibaba has a reputation as a long-term holder, and we’re pleased that they take the same view of Groupon’s opportunity and execution as we do,” he said.
Groupon, once an e-commerce darling that experienced rocketship customer growth, has floundered for years following a shoddy public market debut in 2011. (Fortune's Dan Primack and Erin Griffith have argued that the company is a success and a flop, respectively.)
Groupon shares are up nearly 80% since the news became public.