Shopee scales up Brazil operations, eyes Latam potential: Sources

Shopee launched a small presence in Brazil in late 2019 as a pilot initiative of its cross-border team.
Shopee launched a small presence in Brazil in late 2019 as a pilot initiative of its cross-border team.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Sea Ltd, is scaling up its operations in Brazil and evaluating the long-term potential of Latin American markets, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Shopee, the largest e-commerce platform in South-east Asia according to market researchers, launched a small presence in Brazil in late 2019 as a pilot initiative of its cross-border team.

The company is now growing its presence and moving executives from Southeast Asia to Brazil, said the sources who were briefed on the matter but declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

The firm declined a Reuters request for comment.

The Singapore-headquartered technology group's shares surged more than 400 per cent in 2020, taking its market capitalisation to US$120 billion (S$159 billion). It raised close to US$3 billion in a stock offering last month.

On Linkedin, Shopee is currently recruiting for over three dozen positions in Brazil. Pine Kyaw, formerly country managing director for Shopee's high-growth Vietnam unit, is listed on the job platform as having become Shopee Brazil country head. Mr Kyaw could not be reached for comment.

Sea's chief corporate officer Yanjun Wang told an investor call in November that Shopee Brazil, while cross-border driven, was now being used by local sellers.

According to analytics firm App Annie, Shopee Brazil's app had more monthly active users in December than Amazon's unit in the country, although it remained significantly behind large regional players, such as Argentinian e-commerce market leader Mercado Libre.

The sources said Shopee is assessing the potential of other Latin American markets if Brazil proves successful, but has so far made no definite expansion plans. One source noted that Mexico was of particular interest. Market research company eMarketer estimates e-commerce sales will rise 36.7 per cent this year in Latin America to US$84.9 billion.