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Alibaba Targets $100 Billion Southeast Asian Commerce Business

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(Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has unveiled ambitious objectives for its Southeast Asian arm Lazada, accelerating an overseas expansion to offset Chinese economic and regulatory headwinds.

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The Chinese e-commerce leader is targeting a long-term goal of quintupling gross merchandise value, the sum of transactions across Lazada’s platforms, to $100 billion, Alibaba outlined in a presentation to investors. It wants Lazada to serve more than 300 million users eventually, according to a slideshow posted on its website.

Lazada, which Alibaba took over in 2016, is the Chinese corporation’s main e-commerce business in the booming Southeast Asian market. Its importance has grown since Beijing launched a sprawling effort to curb the influence of internet giants, spurring the likes of Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to ramp up their international businesses. The WeChat operator, which is grappling with a gaming clampdown at home, this month launched a global publishing arm to group A-list titles under one umbrella.

Singapore-based Lazada has grown its GMV to about $21 billion over the past 12 months, after enlarging its active consumer base by 1.8 times to 130 million from March 2020 through September. That’s a ways behind its chief rival in the region, Sea Ltd.’s Shopee, which operates in Southeast Asia and Taiwan and reported more than $56 billion of transactions over the four quarters to the end of September. The Alibaba subsidiary is now the third-largest online retailer in emerging markets by GMV, behind Mercado Libre but ahead of South Korea’s Coupang Inc. and India’s Flipkart, according to the presentation.

Lazada, Shopee and fellow internet giants like Grab Holdings Ltd. and Goto are riding an upswell of Southeast Asian online commerce, which Alibaba says is growing about 27% annually on average. Tencent-backed Sea raised its forecast for annual e-commerce revenue last month for a second time this year, underscoring how the pandemic continues to drive online spending. Southeast Asia’s internet economy is set to double to $363 billion by 2025, research from Google, Temasek Holdings Pte and Bain & Co. shows.

Read more: Singapore’s Sea Raises Sales Outlook a Second Time This Year

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