Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba recently placed its money on the growing global food delivery scene as it acquired Bangladesh delivery startup HungryNaki.
As early as December last year, Alibaba has been in talks with the local food delivery startup and has announced Thursday (March 4) that it is acquiring 100% of HungryNaki from its local owners the Daraz Group, the Pakistan-based e-commerce platform it acquired in 2018.
Alibaba has been looking to expand its presence across Asian markets as its growth slows down in China amid investigations made by Chinese authorities which recently foiled Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Group’s supposed IPO last year.
HungryNaki is a small online delivery service founded in 2013 and one of the earliest on-demand food delivery companies in Bangladesh. The company currently has a presence in key cities like Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Cox’s Bazar, and Narayanganj with over 500,000 customers.
HungryNaki is not the Chinese tech giant’s first foray into the food delivery scene as it has also acquired Ele.me, China’s second-largest food delivery service back in 2018.
Ele.me, since Alibaba’s acquisition and full control, has since expanded to offering other personal services like manicures and housecleaning. It has also generated RMB 24.29 billion (USD 3.75 billion) in revenue for Alibaba in the nine months to Dec. 31.
“This is the first acquisition of a Bangladeshi startup,” Chief Executive A.D. Ahmad said in a Nikkei Asia report. “It is a matter of pride. We have concluded the deal and it may take a month to finalize the acquisition process,” he said.
With the deal, Daraz is planning to expand HungryNaki’s network in over 100 cities with investments in infrastructure, technology, and human resources.
Daraz has been Alibaba’s main channel for business in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Alibaba has invested more heavily in India, but over the past year has seen some of its apps banned and further investments restrained due to the border conflict between China and India.
Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial services subsidiary, also bought a 20% stake in bKash, a Bangladeshi peer, in 2018. Ant Group has also invested in the Indian food delivery app Zomato.
Other key players in the online food delivery scene in Bangladesh include Berlin-based Foodpanda and Singapore-based Golden Gate Ventures which purchased a stake in HungryNaki’s rival delivery service Shohoz.