Retail

Alibaba Buys Daraz

Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has acquired Daraz, Pakistan’s most popular online shopping destination, thus expanding its empire into South Asia.

Daraz was founded by Rocket Internet in 2012 and has since expanded across five South Asian markets, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal and, of course, its home country of Pakistan. Altogether, these markets have a population greater than 460 million, more than 60 percent of which is under age 35.

Alibaba has acquired the entire Daraz business, according to TechCrunch. The amount of the transaction has not been disclosed. Daraz will reportedly continue operating under the same brand following the acquisition, according to a Rocket Internet press release regarding the deal.

The move is part of Alibaba’s greater push into the South Asian market.

In March, the internet giant’s investment arm Ant Financial bought a 45 percent stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank a FinTech division from Telenor, the Norwegian operator that powers Pakistan’s second-largest telco.

Alibaba and Ant Financial previously backed Paytm in India. Two years ago, the company also snapped up online shopping and selling destination Lazada, another Rocket Internet company serving Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, for $1 billion.

Lazada was created to introduce an eCommerce business model to span all major Southeast Asian markets, but despite strong sales growth, it was seeing high-net operating losses. The Alibaba acquisition gave it greater clout against competitors like Tokopedia and Matahari Mall.

Looking ahead, Alibaba and Ant may also be snapping up a chunk of the payment firm bKash, according to local sources. The eCommerce giant is reportedly looking to buy a 20 percent stake in the Bangladesh company. This would push its reach even deeper into the South Asian market. Bangladesh has a population of over 160 million, and internet penetration is on the rise.

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