Alibaba Group is set to take a 20 to 30 percent stake in Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm AutoNavi Holdings Ltd. as it aims to boost its competitveness by beefing up its product line.

Citing unidentified sources, news portal Sina said that the deal, likely to be announced on Monday, would make unlisted Alibaba the largest shareholder in U.S.-listed AutoNavi.  Alibaba and Auto Navi declined to comment.

Shares in AutoNavi have risen more than 30 percent since the start of May and stand at $14.77 per share, which would value the reported deal at roughly $150 million to $250 million.   In April Alibaba acquired an 18 percent stake in Sina Corp’s microblogging service Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, at the end of April.

Industry watchers widely expect Alibaba – whose founder Jack Ma steps down as chief executive on Friday – to seek an initial public offering, possibly this year. Some say the company could fetch a valuation as high as Facebook Inc’s $100 billion.

Source:  Reuters