Alibaba to invest $1.4b more in Lazada

Lazada staff at a Jakarta warehouse. The firm covers six countries and runs about a dozen warehouses and several distribution centres.
Lazada staff at a Jakarta warehouse. The firm covers six countries and runs about a dozen warehouses and several distribution centres.PHOTO: REUTERS

Alibaba Group Holding will invest another US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) to raise its stake in online mall Lazada Group to 83 per cent, securing control of a fast-growing start-up at the vanguard of its South-east Asian expansion.

The Chinese e-commerce leader is buying out most other backers in a deal that values the Singapore-based start-up at US$3.15 billion, Lazada chief executive Maximilian Bittner said, with management and Temasek Holdings remaining as the other investors.

Lazada's previously disclosed backers include British supermarket chain Tesco and Investment AB Kinnevik.

Alibaba took control of Lazada last year from Rocket Internet in a US$1 billion deal - its largest overseas move to date. The firm Mr Bittner started in 2012 is now pivotal to quickening the Chinese online retailer's forays abroad, fulfilling co-founder Jack Ma's ambitions of becoming a global business.

Lazada's home turf is shaping up to be the next battleground for Alibaba and main Chinese rival JD.com, and Amazon.com down the road. The region has become the world's fastest-growing Internet arena, with a populace of more than 600 million getting more comfortable with online shopping and payments.

Lazada covers Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and runs about a dozen warehouses and scores of distribution centres.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Alibaba to invest $1.4b more in Lazada'. Print Edition | Subscribe