Alibaba hires ex-Goldman Sachs exec as it hopes to attract US firms to sell to Chinese customers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 8:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 August, 2015, 8:34am

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is poised to accelerate its international expansion plans, following the appointment of former Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Michael Evans as its new president.

Evans, who has served as an independent director since Alibaba’s initial public offering in September last year, will now lead the company’s efforts to grow its business outside of mainland China.

He will report to Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang Yong.

“Michael has been a close advisor to Alibaba Group for many years, and we greatly value his deep knowledge of our business, his experience as a proven business builder and leader globally, and his more than 20 years of experience in China,” Zhang said on Tuesday.

Evans’ focus will be to drive increased levels of cross-border trade between mainland China and the rest of the world by harnessing Alibaba’s popular business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platforms.

There were 350 million active buyers on Alibaba’s online retail marketplaces as of March 31.

“Globalisation is Alibaba Group’s most important strategy for the coming decades, and our goal is to help 10 million global businesses and serve two billion consumers around the world,” Zhang said.

“We have been laying the foundation for many years and now we need a global team in place with best-in-class talent to bring our vision to fruition.”

Prior to joining New York-listed Alibaba, Evans spent 30 years in global finance, including the last 20 years as a partner at investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he served as vice-chairman, the head of its Global Growth Markets business, and chairman of Asia-Pacific operations. He retired from the firm at the end of 2013.

Evans relocated to Hong Kong during his seven-year stint as chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific. He was credited with helping shape the bank’s strategy and regional operation, and developing relationships with major clients.

“I look forward to joining Daniel’s management team and working with a terrific group of people with whom I’ve developed strong relationships,” Evans said on Tuesday.

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma Yun said out that Evans, through his work on the company’s board, “has built the trust and respect of our management team”.

In June, Alibaba announced two initiatives designed to boost the growth of its cross-border e-commerce operations.

The company added 11 new official country pavilions on Tmall Global, its international business-to-consumer e-commerce platform.

Alibaba also entered into partnerships with the Chinese embassies of 26 countries to promote those markets’ products on Juhuasuan, its online group-buying platform.

Alicia Yap, the head of China internet research at Barclays, said in a report that Alibaba’s international e-commerce revenue was expected to post a 26 per cent year on year increase to US$299 million in the company’s first fiscal quarter ended June 30.