GOOGLE will invest $550 million in Chinese e-commerce giant and powerhouse JD.com, part of US Internet giant's efforts to expand in fast growing Asian markets and battle rivals including Amazon.com

The two companies described the investment as one piece of a broader partnership that will include promotion of JD.com products on Google shopping service.

This could help JD.com expand beyond its base in China and Southeast Asia and establish a meaningful presence in US and European markets.

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.

Google is stepping up its investments across Asia, where a rapidly growing middle class and a lack of infrastructure in retail, finance and other areas have made it a battleground for US and Chinese  Internet giants.

Google recently took a stake in Indonesian ride-hailing firm  Go-Jek, and sources have told Reuters that it may also invest in Indian e-commerce upstart FlipKart.

Google declined to comment on the rumored FlipKart deal. The JD.com investment is being made by the  operating unit  of Google rather than the one of the parent company Alphabet's investment vehicles.

Google will get 27.1 million newly issued JD.com Class A ordinary shares as part of the deal. This will give them less than a 1 percent stake in JD, a spokesman for JD said.

For JD.com, the Google deal shows its determination to to build a set of  global alliances as it seeks to counter Alibaba., which has been more focused on forging domestic retail tie-ups.

Japan's Softbank Group Corp, which is making big Internet investments  around the globe, is a major investor in Alibaba.

''This partnership with Google opens up a broad range of possibilities to offer a superior retail experience to consumers throughout the world,'' said Jianwen Liao. JD.com's  chief strategy officer, in a statement.

Company officials said the deal would marry Google's market reach and strength in analytics with JD.com's expertise in logistics and inventory management. [AGENCIES]


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