According to Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo (via Techweb), Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba is planning to invest US$460 million into the creation of an “Alibaba Town” facility in Incheon, Korea. Alibaba is reportedly working in collaboration with the Incheon City government, which will also put US$460 million into the facility if a space for it is found. But that could take some time: once it’s completed, the facility will be 1 million square meters in size.
As of now, though, the deal is likely still in the works, and far from a sure thing. An Alibaba spokesperson told Tech in Asia:
Alibaba Group sees great potential in the South Korean market, however the media reports on the ‘Alibaba town’ investment are purely speculative. Any disclosures regarding our investments will be announced through the proper channels.
Reportedly, the Alibaba Town would contain logistical facilities like a warehouse for Alibaba’s ecommerce business, but it would also contain a massive shopping mall, restaurants, and other cultural facilities. Incheon’s government, which has a history of seeking collaborations with foreign businesses, likely hopes that the Alibaba Town will attract more Chinese tourists to Incheon. Chinese tourists spend more per capita than tourists from any other country when they travel abroad, so an increase in Chinese tourism could mean a windfall for Incheon’s economy.
For its part, Alibaba may just be looking to strengthen its branding and foothold in South Korea.
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