Alibaba unit to have overseas HQ here

Cloud-computing subsidiary Aliyun sees Singapore as logical link to businesses in the Asia-Pacific zone

The cloud-computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will base its overseas headquarters in Singapore as it gears up to expand globally. Aliyun, as the unit is known, will serve businesses investing in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Chinese operations.

Aliyun vice-president Ethan Yu said in a statement yesterday: "The city state is a natural springboard into the Asia-Pacific region, not only for us, but for our target audience.

"We are seeing healthy demand for cloud-related data management services in Singapore because of the ease of doing business, comprehensive transport and telecommunications connections and robust intellectual property regime."

Last year, Alibaba opened a Singapore office at One Raffles Place where a small number of staff from the financial, logistics and Aliyun teams are now based, said an Alibaba spokesperson yesterday.

Alibaba plans to recruit more engineers and business development staff here, although it has not set a target number "since we believe we need to find the right people to meet the needs of those local customers", said the spokesman.

"Aliyun welcomes gifted talents with sophisticated knowledge of the Asian markets," she added.

Aliyun will also launch a cloud data centre here early next month, after announcing plans to set up here last month. It will be its seventh centre with others in mainland China, Hong Kong and Silicon Valley. It also plans to open centres in Dubai, Germany and Japan.

Mr Yu told CNBC that the new facility here could "become the biggest we have outside China" and give the cloud division an edge in the face of stiff competition from US cloud giants such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

Alibaba is cooperating with local service providers to establish the data centre, but its location and the number of servers it will house cannot be disclosed as such information is highly sensitive, the Alibaba spokesman said.

Singtel is one of Aliyun's local partners having entered into a cloud-computing alliance in June. Besides collaborating on hybrid cloud-computing services, the tie-up lets Aliyun use Singtel's servers instead of building its own.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Alibaba unit to have overseas HQ here'. Print Edition | Subscribe