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China's JD.com isn't in a rush to list its finance arm

  • Listing JD.com's internet finance arm, JD Finance, was not a competition, CEO Richard Liu said
  • The company's spin off of JD Finance gives it more scope to expand into payments
  • JD.com will overtake Alibaba in the business-to-consumer space in five years, Liu projected

JD.com may have been the first Chinese e-commerce firm to list on the Nasdaq, but its CEO says he's not in any rush to list the company's internet finance unit.

One of the reasons for spinning off JD Finance, JD.com's finance arm, was a desire to expand further into the payments business, JD.com CEO and Chairman Richard Liu told CNBC's "Managing Asia."

The move would also ultimately pave the way for a future listing for JD Finance, Liu acknowledged.

"As a local [Chinese] company, [it's] easier for us to get license from the government. And second, you know ... [for a] financial consumer business model, if you can list in China, it will be very good to communicate with consumers," Liu said.

The internet retailer completed the spinoff JD Finance after first announcing its intentions to do so in March this year.

As part of the agreement, JD.com disposed of the 68.6 percent stake it had in JD Finance for 14.3 billion yuan ($2.2 billion). Meanwhile, Liu acquired a 4.3 percent stake of JD Finance and majority voting rights.

The reorganization resulted in an arrangement currently used by rival Alibaba and its financial affiliate, Ant Financial.

However, when asked whether he intended for JD Finance to go public before Ant Financial, Liu said he currently had no fixed time frame for when exactly to take the unit public. "Listing is not like a competition," he said.

As for the intensifying rivalry between Alibaba and JD.com — the two largest e-commerce players in China — Liu said he was confident his company would soon close the gap.

Alibaba's Tmall has a market share of 56.6 percent by gross merchandise value, placing it first among business-to-consumer online shopping websites in China in 2016, according to iResearch Consultancy Group. JD.com currently takes second place with a market share of 24.7 percent.

"Within 5 years, I'm sure we will surpass them to be the largest B2C platform in China," Liu told CNBC.

"Because ... we [have] always grown faster than them. And also because our user experience [is] always better than any competitor in China."