Chinese steel maker joins forces with Alibaba to sell online

2 December 2015

Chinese steel manufacturers are to open a new front in the global price war by moving online and selling their products through an Alibaba-backed website.

China Minmetals Corporation, the largest state-owned metal trader in the country, said it had reached an agreement with a company backed by Alibaba to jointly build an online platform that allows firms to trade steel, according to a filing on the Shanghai stock exchange.

Hangzhou Ali Venture Capital, an investment firm in which Jack Ma - the billionaire owner of Alibaba - holds an 80pc stake, said it would build an online steel trade platform with Minmetals Development, the steel trading arm of the larger state-owned group.

Hangzhou Ali Venture is to commit 316.8m yuan (£32m) to the rapid development of the platform.

The move comes as UK steelmakers are desperately seeking government assistance as they fight for survival while Chinese steel is dumped on world markets.

The steel industry has been plunged into crisis amid an influx of cheap Chinese steel imports, and has been pushed to breaking point by high energy costs and onerous taxes.