Taobao, China』s largest online marketplace, is offering consumers the chance to buy not just a tube of toothpaste, but the entire company behind it.
Tianqi, the well-known toothpaste brand, and Guangxi Aoqili, its manufacturer, went on sale yesterday for a starting price of Rmb163m ($23.6m), becoming one of the first household-name brands to be auctioned on the site.
The auction, which closes today, also included industrial real estate, production equipment for making toothpaste and 57 trademarks related to Tianqi, according to a notice posted on the auction website.
Separately, shoppers can still buy Tianqi toothpaste on Taobao』s sites for less than $2 per tube. The reasons for the online sale of the private company are not known.
Taobao is controlled by ecommerce company Alibaba and processes tens of millions of retail sales for Chinese consumers every day. It is also famous for its annual 「singles』 day」 event on November 11, when tens of billions of dollars of goods are sold.
But the company also runs an auction site for property confiscated by Chinese courts. In recent years it has become a platform for hawking everything from parcels of forest land to tea tables made from precious wood. Two Boeing jets and an unfinished skyscraper went on the block last year.
The marketplace also offers up shares in banks and insurance companies. Bad-debt managers have started using the site to offload their portfolios.
An FT investigation into the auction site in 2018 found that it had become a billion-dollar marketplace for shares in banks, both listed and unlisted, raising questions over how such financial assets are priced and regulated. Foreign banks have even used the platform to snap up shares in Chinese financial companies. In April, Morgan Stanley made an online purchase of a 5.5 per cent stake in Morgan Stanley Huaxin Fund Management for about Rmb25m, making it the largest shareholder in the business it helped set up.
英國《金融時報》2018年對該拍賣網站進行的一項調查發現，它已成為一個價值數十億美元的銀行股市場（包括上市銀行和未上市銀行），這引發了人們對這些金融資產定價與監管方式的質疑。外國銀行甚至利用這一平台買入中國金融企業的股票。今年4月，摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)以約2500萬元人民幣在線買入摩根士丹利華鑫基金管理有限公司(Morgan Stanley Huaxin Fund Management) 5.5%的股份，成為這家在華合資企業的最大股東。
Controlling stakes in small companies are regularly for sale on Taobao but the Tianqi auction was a rare opportunity to buy a nationally recognised brand.