By Aradhana Aravindan (Reuters) Singapore– Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding is investing an additional $1 billion in Southeast Asian online retailer Lazada Group, boosting its stake by nearly a third to 83 percent and amplifying its focus on the region. Alibaba’s announcement comes as its rivals such as Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, Inc. are expanding operations in Southeast Asia and amid media reports that Amazon is eyeing an entry into the region of 600 million people where only a fraction of total retail sales are currently conducted online. (http://tcrn.ch/2mSzlop) The region may be the first market where Amazon and Alibaba will go head-to-head, if the US firm confirms the plans. “It is a clear signal from (Alibaba) that, now having learnt the market better, that they really believe in the opportunity of e-commerce in Southeast Asia,” Lazada Chief Executive Maximilian Bittner told Reuters in an interview. The move doubles Alibaba’s investment in Lazada after last year’s deal to buy a controlling stake in it for about $1 billion and is a part of its efforts to boost its global sales. Alibaba had the option to buy the remaining stakes from some Lazada investors, 12-18 months after the deal closed…. Read full this story
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