Alibaba invests extra US$2bn in Lazada Group

Employees at online retailer Lazada fill orders at the company's warehouse in Jakarta Indonesia

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said it will invest anextra United States dollars two billion in Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada Group and tapped a top executive to run the business, as it takes on rivals such as tech titan Amazon in an aggressive expansion in the region.

Alibaba's first investment came in April 2016 when it bought 51 percent of Lazada for $1 billion, and it added another $1 billion last summer to increase its equity to around 83 percent. Peng is one of the 18 founders and a senior partner in the Alibaba Group.

Lazada, for its part, has also been steadily building closer ties with its key investor, offering products from Alibaba's Taobao marketplace across the Southeast Asian region past year, and replacing the leadership of its tech team with Alibaba executives.

Peng is also the chairwoman and chief executive of Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial, which is planning a separate public offering.

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The new investment, which follows Alibaba spending $2-billion to take control of Lazada, will help the company with technology development and customer acquisition. The latter began offering products from Alibaba's Taobao marketplace across Southeast Asia previous year, and Alibaba has replaced Lazada's tech team leadership with executives of its own.

According to commentators, Southeast Asia is a lucrative market for e-commerce players as millions of first-generation internet users go online for shopping.

Last year Amazon launched its two-hour delivery in Singapore, while China's JD.com has built its own logistics network in Indonesia, and in January announced an investment in Vietnamese online retailer Tiki.vn.

There is clearly a lot of opportunities available in Southeast Asian e-commerce, and Alibaba increasing its stake in Lazada is a sign of the firm's commitment to growth in the region. "I am excited about the future for Lazada and Lazadians and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the success of the business by helping Lucy and Alibaba's management", Bittner said.

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