Tech giant expands southeast Asia investment



Following the investment, Lucy Peng, who now serves as Lazada Group chairwoman, will take over the role of chief executive officer, replacing founder Max Bittner, who will become a senior advisor to Alibaba.

Bittner, who has been CEO since 2012, will take on a senior advisory role at Alibaba.

Alibaba gained control of the Singapore-based company way back in 2016 with an initial investment of $1 billion.

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Supported by huge revenue and rising prices of Alibaba's shares, its new financing at Lazada underscores the ambitious global drive to secure a larger share of the billions of dollars of a rapidly expanding online trading market. Peng, one of the 18 founders and a senior partner in the Alibaba Group, said the region is a hot spot for growth and exciting opportunities.

It follows a year of brisk expansion in Southeast Asia by the Chinese e-commerce giant and its payment affiliate Ant Financial, as it faces off against the world's biggest online retailer Inc and fellow Chinese retailer Inc to tap new consumers in the region.

In addition, its cloud business has invested heavily in building data center infrastructure in the region, facilitating the spread of its digital commerce and payments services.

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Lazada will now be further integrated into the Alibaba ecosystem. "With a young population, high mobile penetration and just 3 per cent of the region's retail sales now conducted online, we feel very confident to double down on South-east Asia".

The region's online economy is expected to grow by as much as $200 billion by 2025, with this growth largely driven by eCommerce.

According to commentators, Southeast Asia is an important aspect of Alibaba's global expansion and a thriving region that Chinese archival Inc is also targeting. Global e-commerce giant Amazon entered the region past year, but is so far active only in Singapore.

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Including Monday's announcement, Alibaba will have ponied up a total of $4 billion to invest into Lazada, which has operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

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