Ant Financial executive chairman Lucy Peng steps down to focus on Lazada
Ant Financial executive chairman Lucy Peng is stepping down from her position to focus on Alibaba Group’s e-commerce efforts in Southeast Asia.
Eric Jing, chief executive of the Alibaba affiliate, will take on the additional role of Ant Financial’s executive chairman effective immediately, according to a statement issued on Monday.
The change comes soon after Peng took the helm as chief executive of Singapore-based e-commerce firm Lazada last month, at the same time that Alibaba poured an additional US$2 billion into the company as it looks to dominate the burgeoning online market in the region.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba previously invested US$2 billion for an 83 per cent share in Lazada, which operates e-commerce platforms in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Alibaba’s current stake following the latest investment was not revealed.
The management change where Peng will focus solely on growing Lazada also points towards how Chinese tech firms are viewing the Southeast Asian e-commerce space with increasing importance.
Alibaba, as well as rival JD.com, have stepped up efforts over the past year to carve out a bigger slice of the Southeast Asian market, either by investing in or partnering with various companies. Apart from Lazada, Alibaba has also invested in Indonesia’s Tokopedia, while JD.com poured money into Vietnam’s Tiki and formed a US$500 million e-commerce venture with Thailand’s Central Group.
In an internal memo to employees provided by the company, Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma Yun called this change in top management “the most significant in Ant Financial’s history”.
“Ant Financial has done an incredible job of cultivating talent. Just as each wave in the Yangtze River pushes the one in front forward, the older generation can go confidently forward only when the new one surpasses them,” Ma said.
Peng held the position of Ant Financial’s executive chairman from 2016 to 2018, and had previously served as its chief executive from 2014 to 2016. She also served as chief executive of Alipay from 2010 to 2014, and oversaw the growth of that business into one of China’s leading online payments platforms today.
“Lucy was instrumental in cultivating a world-class Ant Financial team. This group of dynamic, talented people is key to ensuring that Ant Financial stays true to its mission,” Jing said in a statement.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.