Google will invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce powerhouse JD.com, part of the U.S. internet company’s efforts to expand its presence in fast-growing Asian markets and battle rivals including Amazon.com.
The two companies described the investment announced as one piece of a broader partnership that will include the promotion of JD.com products on Google’s shopping service. This could help JD.com expand beyond its base in China and Southeast Asia and establish a meaningful presence in U.S. and European markets.
JD.com’s U.S.-listed shares rose 0.4 percent to close at $43.76 on Nasdaq.
Company officials said the agreement initially would not involve any major new Google initiatives in China, where the company’s main services are blocked over its refusal to censor search results in line with local laws.
JD.com’s investors include Chinese social media powerhouse Tencent Holdings Ltd, the arch-rival of Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and Walmart Inc.
In the past year, Google has partnered with Walmart on multiple fronts. In August 2017, the two companies joined forces to offer hundreds of thousands of Walmart items on Google’s voice-controlled Google Assistant platform to counter the dominance of Amazon in the voice shopping market.
In March, Reuters reported a new program where Google was teaming up with retailers like Walmart, allowing them to list their products on Google Search, as well as on the Google Express shopping service to better compete with Amazon.
Google is also reportedly pursuing picking up a stake in India’s Flipkart, where Walmart picked up a 77 percent stake for $16 billion.
Google declined to comment on the rumored Flipkart deal.