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Online retailer Jumei buys controlling stake in power bank rental startup Ankerbox

The spending spree on the power bank rental sector (estimated to be worth more than RMB 10 billion) continues. U.S.-listed Chinese online retailer Jumei recently acquired a 60% stake in power bank-rental startup Ankerbox (街电科技) for RMB 300 million, adding another case to the string of Chinese firms that are rushing to the country’s budding power bank rental market.

Under the deal, Jumei CEO and founder, Chen Ou, will take up the chairman position at Anker.

Ankerbox is a Shenzhen-based startup growing from an incubation project two years ago by Hunan Oceanwing E-commerce (海翼), the company behind power bank brand Anker. Oceanwing was founded by a few ex-Googlers in 2011 and engages in research, development, and sales of smart device peripherals.

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Image credit: huanqiu.com

Ankerbox allows users to rent power banks for a fixed fee. Unlike some other power bank startups, Ankerbox’s power banks are portable and can be dropped off at any Ankerbox location. Users can pinpoint nearby Ankerboxes through the rental service’s app and scan a QR code to rent a power bank.

Ankerbox earlier raised eight-digit RMB in Series A funding from investors including IDG Capital Partners and Sunwoda (欣旺达).

Jumei revealed that it plans to inject additional several billion RMB in Ankerbox in the next three months, viewing the 2-year-old power bank rental startup as a leading player in the country. The power bank rental market has become increasingly crowded, as more investments are pouring in it.

The investment is also seen as Jumei’s renewed efforts to reverse the company’s slide after it was hit by the declining performance and a failed privatization proposal. The company’s privatization efforts fell through last February after it met resistance from small investors, who complained that the offer was unfairly low.

According to the H1 2016 results released last December, Jumei’s net profit fell about one-third year-on-year to RMB 141 million. Listed in the US three years ago, the online retailer saw its share price plummet to US$3.07 on Thursday’s market close from its peak of US$ 39.45 in 2014, with its market cap slumping to US$ 552 million.

Jumei has been adjusting its business model in the wake of complaints two years ago that its third-party vendors sold fake cosmetics products. The company has expanded its online make-up and skin-care retailing business into more categories including mom & baby products as well as apparel and accessories. They have also launched a cross-border cosmetics e-commerce platform, allowing customers to buy products directly from overseas.

In addition, Jumei founded its film and television unit and launched its own air purifiers last year, as part of its effort to seek new growth driver.

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