Alibaba ups Lazada stake with $1B investment

Chinese e-commerce giant will pump in US$1 billion to increase its shares in Lazada to 83 percent, as it looks to expand its footprint across "relatively untapped" Southeast Asian e-commerce markets.

Alibaba Group says it will pump in about US$1 billion to boost its stake in Lazada Group to 83 percent, as it looks to expand its footprint across Southeast Asia.

The Chinese e-commerce giant said the investment indicated its commitment and belief in the region's growth potential. Noting that just 3 percent of total retail sales were transacted online in Southeast Asia, Alibaba said the region played a key role the company's global growth strategy.

Alibaba in April 2016 acquired a controlling 51 percent stake in Lazada for US$1 billion, pushing its total investment in the Southeast Asian e-commerce player to more than US$2 billion.

In the latest move, Alibaba said it would buy over the share of "certain Lazada shareholders" at an implied valuation of US$3.15 billion. Lazada currently had operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang said: "The e-commerce markets in the region are still relatively untapped and we see a very positive upward trajectory ahead of us. We will continue to put our resources to work in Southeast Asia through Lazada to capture these growth opportunities."

Lazada's payment platform HelloPay in April was rebranded to Alibaba's own payment offering, Alipay, in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The merger also saw Lazada's HelloPay team joining Ant Financial's Singapore office, which managed the rebranded platform.

Alibaba in March also unveiled plans to set up a distribution centre in Malaysia as part of a wider agreement to build up a digital trading network in the country. Anticipated to be ready by end-2019, the facility would serve as a regional e-commerce and logistics hub.

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