Alibaba to invest additional $2 billion in Lazada, replaces CEO

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

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said it will invest an additional $2 billion in Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada Group and replace its chief executive, consolidating its control over the firm as it targets an aggressive expansion in the region.

Lucy Peng, a co-founder at Alibaba and now Lazada's chairwoman, would take on the additional role from current chief Maximilian Bittner.

Alibaba's stake will increase to an undisclosed amount following the latest investment, a spokeswoman told Reuters.

Peng, who is one of Alibaba's original 12 founders, has been Chairwoman of Lazada and is executive chairman of Ant Financial, Alibaba's fintech affiliate company.

Lazada will now be further integrated into the Alibaba ecosystem. It also presented its "New Retail" strategic cooperation last month following a $486 million investment in big-data firm Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co.

Taking into account the recent announcement, Alibaba has already invested a total of $4 billion on Lazada. Former CEO Max Bittner will continue as "senior advisor to Alibaba Group" and, as TechCrunch reports, will be likely involved in future strategy planning, including the platform's expansion into worldwide markets.

Alibaba's move is not surprising, as Southeast Asia is fast becoming a very profitable market for eCommerce businesses now that millions of Internet users have discovered the joys of online shopping.

"With a young population, high mobile penetration and just three percent of the region's retail sales now conducted online, we feel very confident to double down on Southeast Asia", said Peng.

Last year, Amazon entered the market for the first time by launching its express, same-day delivery service, Prime Now, in Singapore. "Lazada is well-positioned for the next phase of development of Internet-enabled commerce in this region".

Launched in 2012, Lazada boasts more than 145,000 local and worldwide sellers and 3,000 brands throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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