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Alibaba Buying Its Way into India, Southeast Asia

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. appears poised to continue expanding its multi-billion dollar business into India and Southeast Asia. Alibaba has been in talks with Paytm, an m-commerce platform, to acquire all of Paytm Mall or at least a large share of the company’s marketplace business, according to the Hindustan Times. The investment in Paytm Mall would put Alibaba head to head with Amazon and Flipkart in India. Also, Alibaba, which recently announced more than $4.8 billion in quarterly revenue, bought in April a majority stake in Lazada Group, a Singapore-based e-commerce company for $1 billion.

Alibaba officials have declined to comment about the potential deal for Paytm Mall, but the company hasn’t made it a secret that it’s interested in India and Southeast Asia.

“We acquired the majority control of Lazada in an effort to start to serve local consumers in Southeast Asia,” said Joseph Tsai, Alibaba executive vice chairman, during an earnings call (Aug. 11), according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. He added that Southeast Asia is important for the company, with a market of more than 500 million potential consumers, and with Lazada operating in six countries.

Tsai also mentioned during the call India as another market the company is interested in, referring to its investment with affiliate Ant Financial in Paytm and mention of Alibaba-owned UCWeb, possibly the most popular Web browser in India. “I think we’re very well strategically positioned in these emerging markets, and that’s the start of our international activity,” he said.

Furthermore, Alibaba in recent months has been hiring executives in India with e-commerce experience, a possible indication the company is planning an online shopping push in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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