Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA) has agreed to invest around $2.87 billion for a 36.16% stake in Chinese hypermart operator Sun Art (HK: 6808).
- Why it's the BFD: Because this is a major shot at both Amazon and Wal-Mart in the battle for global retail supremacy. In terms of Amazon, this is just Alibaba's latest addition to a brick-and-mortar wall that predates and towers over Whole Foods and automated convenience stores. If Alibaba chooses to go physical in the U.S., it will have much more knowledge and data than does Amazon. For Wal-Mart, this is a direct challenge to its China business.
- Bottom line: "Alibaba has invested upwards of $9.3 billion in brick-and-mortar stores since 2015. It has launched many un-staffed concept shops in the past year, including grocery and coffee stores." — Reuters
• Casa Systems, an Andover, Mass.-based maker of cable and mobile edge devices, has filed for a $150 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker CASA, with Morgan Stanley and Barclays serving as lead underwriters. The company reports $6 million of net income on $234 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2017. Shareholders include Summit Partners (52% pre-IPO stake) and Liberty Global Ventures (6%). www.casa-systems.com
• The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is considering investing in new venture capital funds again, more than a decade after bailing on the asset class. http://axios.link/SJfm
• Crosslink Capital is raising up to $250 million for its eighth VC fund, according to an SEC filing. www.crosslinkcapital.com
• SK Telecom, Hyundai Motor Co., Hanwha and Element AI have formed a $45 million venture fund focused on global AI startups. http://axios.link/Yjmp