Chinese e-Commerce giant Alibaba is set to acquire 28% stake in digital mapping company AutoNavi for $294m in a bid to improve its competitveness by expanding its product lineup.

Following this stake purchase, Alibaba executive vice chairman Joseph Tsaif and Alibaba mobile products division president Eddie Wu are to join AutoNavi’s board of directors.

AutoNavi and several entities affiliated with Alibaba have also agreed to form a strategic alliance to jointly explore and develop location-based e-Commerce opportunities.

Through this they plan to share data including AutoNavi’s map data and location-related information of the merchants on Alibaba’s e-Commerce platforms – Taobao Marketplace and

Further, the Alibaba plans to promote its products and services leveraging AutopNavi’s data pertaining to map engine, location search, navigation and cloud computing services.

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma stated that this partnership is in line with company’s plan to extend its services to mobile internet.

"We’re pleased to work with partners such as AutoNavi to develop terrific applications and services that bring more convenience, fun, and joy to our users. We’ll continue to work toward this goal with tireless enthusiasm," added Ma.

AutoNavi chief executive officer Congwu Cheng said the alliance with Alibaba highlights the importance of map applications as a key entry point for mobile services in the age of smartphones.

"With Alibaba’s support, AutoNavi will be able to establish a massive platform of points of interest ("POIs") related to the kinds of services our users seek every day. The alliance will also enable us to create an innovative monetization model by providing consumers with a one-stop service application that integrates merchant information with POIs search, data mining, payment, and other e-commerce activities," he added.