Alibaba spending US$1b to raise stake in Lazada

The Singapore Lazada website is seen in this illustration

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Wednesday it would inject another $1 billion into Southeast Asia's Lazada, as the cashed-up company increases its stake in the region's nascent online shopping market. Kinnevik, which sold half its Lazada stake when Alibaba took control of the company in April, will get $115 million for its remaining 3.6 percent stake, the Swedish investment company said in a separate announcement.

Alibaba will invest $1bn to increase its stake in Lazada from 51% to around 83%. Lazada now had operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Alibaba had the option to buy the remaining stakes from some Lazada investors, 12-18 months after the deal closed. Currently, only three per cent of the region's total retail sales are conducted online, the company said. "It also reflects that Alibaba continues to be extremely positive about this region, doubling down on Southeast Asia and seeing the potential", Lazada CEO Max Bittner told TechCrunch in an interview.

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In a statement today, Alibaba said the transaction demonstrated the continued success of Lazada's business and Alibaba's confidence in the growth potential of Southeast Asian markets and its commitment to the region as part of its global strategy.

This year, Lazada introduced Alibaba's Taobao online bazaar to Singapore via a dedicated website.

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"I couldn't be more excited to deepen our relationship with Alibaba", said Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Lazada Group. "We will continue to put our resources to work in Southeast Asia through Lazada to capture these growth opportunities", he added.

The move comes as Alibaba looks to expand its presence in the growing e-commerce market in Southeast Asia, which boasts a population of over 600 million.

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"Morgan Stanley Asia Limited acted as an exclusive financial adviser for the transaction". Lazada helps more than 100,000 local and worldwide sellers as well as 2,500 brands serve the 560 million consumers in the region through its marketplace platform, supported by a wide range of tailored marketing, data, and service solutions. That has allowed Lazada to invest further in the marketplace, technology, payments and logistics, enhancing its services and the customer experience.

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