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Alibaba leads major ShopRunner investment as IPO looms -source

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd has led an investment round of about $200 million in fledgling U.S. retail website ShopRunner Inc, a source with knowledge of the deal said, making one of its largest U.S. investments as it prepares to go public.

The source did not say how much of a stake the Chinese e-commerce giant owns of ShopRunner, the 3-year-old retail startup backed by eBay Inc and run by former Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Scott Thompson, or how much Alibaba paid.

The source is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and requested anonymity.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Thursday that eBay sold its 30 percent stake to Alibaba and the other unspecified investors in that latest round, which valued ShopRunner at about $600 million.

Alibaba, of which Yahoo owns 24 percent, declined to comment on the investment.

"The U.S. market in the long run is very interesting to us," the Journal cited Joe Tsai, Alibaba's executive vice chairman and co-founder, as saying in an interview.

"Coming into this market is about learning about American consumers and how the market operates."

The Chinese company founded by Jack Ma is preparing to float shares in an initial public offering that could rival Facebook Inc's $16 billion debut in 2012. CEO Jonathan Lu told Reuters the company has decided to forego listing in Hong Kong, though it has not committed to debuting on any other stock exchange.

ShopRunner was founded in 2010 and offers free two-day shipping of goods by major brands from Calvin Klein to GNC. It hopes to tackle larger rival Amazon.com Inc with features such as free shipping on returns and unlimited two-day shipping.