Alibaba Group Holding Ltd BABA.N said it will invest an additional $2 billion (1.44 billion pounds) in Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada Group as part of the Chinese firm's push into new markets. Lazada founder Max Bittner, who has served as CEO since 2012, will take on the role of senior advisor to the Alibaba Group, to assist in the transition and future global growth strategy. The statement didn't specify how much of the company Alibaba will own after the latest investment. Also, Lazada chairwoman Lucy Peng will now also take on the role of CEO.
Alibaba shares closed higher in the US Friday, ahead of news the tech giant has increased its investment in Lazada, the popular online shopping site across southeast Asia.
Alibaba has previously invested $2 billion in the Singapore-based firm, bringing its total investment to $4 billion. Bittner will remain involved as "senior advisor to Alibaba Group" and apparently involved in future strategy, including further worldwide expansion opportunities. "I am excited about the future for Lazada and Lazadians and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the success of the business by helping Lucy and Alibaba's management", Bittner said. She will be tasked with doubling down on Southeast Asia as the region has a young population and high mobile penetration rate, with just 3% of the region's sales now conducted online, the statement read.
The China-based conglomerate now operates in more than 200 countries, recently putting down $20 million in Rent the Runway and beginning operations in its first Indonesia-based data center through its cloud computing arm, Alibaba Cloud.
Lazada operates online retail platforms across Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore and is the leading e-commerce provider in the region, with about 560 million consumers using the platform.
"Lazada is well-positioned for the next phase of development and of Internet-enabled commerce in this region", Ms Peng said. Last year, the retail titan ramped up its takeover with the launch of its two-hour Prime delivery in Singapore.
Southeast Asia is an important aspect of Alibaba's global expansion and a thriving region that Chinese arch-foe JD.com Inc.is also targeting.