Alibaba puts top executive in charge of Lazada in Southeast Asia push
Lucy Peng Lei, who heads Alibaba’s financial arm Ant Financial, takes over as chief executive of e-commerce platform operator Lazada as Alibaba steps up its push into Southeast Asia
Alibaba Group Holding put one of its top executives in charge of Lazada Group, the leading online commerce operator in Southeast Asia, as the Chinese tech giant accelerates its expansion into a region with more than 600 million consumers.
Lucy Peng Lei, who is now chairman of Lazada, will take over as chief executive after Alibaba acquired control of the company in 2016 with an investment of US$1 billion and further increased its stake to 83 per cent with another US$1 billion last year. Lazada founder Maximilian Bittner will move into an advisory role.
The Hangzhou-based company said on Monday it will invest an additional US$2 billion in Lazada to speed up its growth plans and deepen its integration with Alibaba’s other businesses. Chinese technology companies see Southeast Asia as a huge new market. The region consists of 11 countries with a total population of 653.4 million, about 49 per cent of which live in urban areas, according to the latest United Nations estimates.
“With a young population, high mobile penetration and just 3% of the region’s retail sales currently conducted online, we feel very confident to double down on Southeast Asia”, Peng said in a release. “Lazada is well-positioned for the next phase of development of internet-enabled commerce in this region, and we are excited about the incredible opportunities for supercharged growth.”
Peng is one of the 18 members of the original team that started Alibaba together with executive chairman Jack Ma Yun. Peng has held high-profile positions within the group, including being its chief people officer, before leading affiliate Ant Financial Services.
The appointment of Peng signals the importance of Southeast Asia in Alibaba’s overseas expansion plan.
Alibaba’s international e-commerce retail business, which includes its Southeast Asia-focused online shopping marketplace Lazada and its global retail marketplace AliExpress, touched 4.73 billion yuan in sales, up 93 per cent from the same period a year ago.
The company is aiming to duplicate its domestic e-commerce success in Southeast Asia, a region with many similar characteristics to a pre-Alibaba China – and its efforts are paying off. During Singles' Day last year, Lazada drew a record-breaking US$123 million in sales. AliExpress, which helps ship goods from Alibaba platforms to global destinations, is also helping to extend the Chinese company’s user base globally.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.