HONG KONG, July 30 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP said on Thursday it agreed to pay 530 million yuan ($85 million) for an undisclosed stake in Chinese vending machine operator Beijing Ubox Technology & Trade Co Ltd, betting on growing consumer demand for convenient shopping.
The firm invested through its Carlyle Beijing Partners Fund, which was formed with the support of the Beijing Municipal government.
The Ubox deal comes on the heels of $235 million in investments Carlyle made in China the past month in transportation company Shanghai ANE Logistics Ltd (ANE) and equipment leasing firm JIC Leasing Co Ltd.
The Washington-based firm sees “great potential for growth” in China’s vending machine market, particularly as its middle class expands and the urban population continues to rise. With Chinese consumers making more and more use of mobile phones to purchase goods on the Internet, Carlyle is also counting on Ubox’s online-to-offline services to grow the business.
Ubox has more than 30,000 vending machines in 58 cities, Carlyle said. ($1 = 6.2086 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)