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Exclusive: Alibaba, Shoprunner plan to launch joint China service

A woman walks past an Alibaba advertisement on a wall in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Chance Chan

By Deepa Seetharaman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (IPO-ALIB.N) has struck one of its largest deals with a U.S. online retailer, agreeing to help Amazon.com (AMZN) rival Shoprunner sell to China and handle delivery within the country.

Shoprunner, whose partners include Neiman Marcus and Nine West, will use Alibaba's domestic logistics infrastructure to launch its service in China later this year, Shoprunner Chief Strategy Officer Fiona Dias told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

The Alibaba and Shoprunner venture will be in addition to Web sites already operated by Alibaba, including Tmall and Taobao marketplaces.

Alibaba owns 39 percent of Shoprunner, which launched four years ago and sells products from thousands of brands like American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Calvin Klein. It offers members 2-day shipping within the United States from a variety of stores.

The move would offer a way for U.S. corporations to tap the world's second largest economy, where many foreign retailers have stumbled in the past.

"The history of U.S. retailers going to China is one that's fraught with peril," Dias said in an interview. "This is a very low cost way to do it that doesn't require them (U.S. retailers) to go to China to figure it out."

(Editing by Peter Henderson)