Alibaba invests $2B in online retailer to expand in SE Asia

Alibaba's new commitment of capital and resources is good for Lazada and good for the Southeast Asia e-commerce market

Alibaba also said in the same statement that Lucy Peng, who serves as Lazada's chairwoman, will assume the additional role of chief executive officer.

Alibaba's stake will increase to an undisclosed size following the latest investment, a spokeswoman told Reuters. Peng will take the place of Max Bittner, who will join Alibaba as a senior adviser.

Alibaba initially acquired a controlling stake in Singapore-based Lazada in 2016 for an investment valued at $1 billion, then increased its stake further with another $1 billion investment previous year, raising its total to $4 billion. Peng is one of the 18 founders and a senior partner in the Alibaba Group.

According to commentators, Southeast Asia is a lucrative market for e-commerce players as millions of first-generation internet users go online for shopping.

"The investment underscores Alibaba's confidence in the future success of Lazada's business and the growth prospect of the Southeast Asian market, a region that is a key part of Alibaba's global growth strategy", the company said in a statement.

The company did not disclose how its stake will change with the latest investment, but it's safe to say that Alibaba is gearing up for an intense battle in South East Asia, following Amazon's launch in Singapore and Shopee's recent expansion to win consumers.

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The online retailer conducts operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Online retail sales in China are off to a strong start for the year, creating upside potential for Alibaba.

The region's internet economy is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2025, primarily driven by growth in e-commerce.

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.

Last year, Amazon entered the market for the first time by launching its express, same-day delivery service, Prime Now, in Singapore.

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