Ninetowns (NINE) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire a 22% equity interest in Hangzhou Tophere Info-Tech, a Chinese business-to-business online food and beverage trade facilitator headquartered in Hangzhou for CNY$5 million.

Founded in 2003, Tophere has built a professional food and beverage industry B2B Chinese Internet portal that offers domestic marketing services for food and beverage suppliers and manufacturers based in China, and is now beginning to provide integrated sourcing services for international buyers. Through its B2B website at 21food.cn, Tophere has reportedly successfully conducted various trade transactions between domestic buyers and suppliers. Currently, Tophere employs approximately 80 full-time employees in China, and has approximately 1,000 paying members. In addition, Tophere has accumulated information of 149,000 food and beverage products available from over 136,000 Chinese suppliers.

With the goal of providing more value-added services within the international trade value chain for import/export enterprises in China, Ninetowns has launched various B2B initiatives this year, including its B2B search and service platform, tootoo.com.

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