March 19 (UPI) — The Alibaba Group announced Monday it will invest $2 billion in online retailer Lazada as the company looks to increase its presence in Southeast Asia.
Lazada, which Alibaba acquired 83 percent in last year, has operations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and its headquarters in Singapore.
“The investment underscores Alibaba’s confidence in the future success of Lazada’s business and the growth prospect of the Southeast Asian market, a region that is a key part of Alibaba’s global growth strategy,” Alibaba said in a statement.
Alibaba also said Lazada will change CEOs.
Lucy Peng was named the new CEO after Max Bittner stepped down from the top spot to take on a role as senior adviser.
Peng, who was chairman of Lazada before taking on the role of CEO, said Southeast Asia will be an integral part of the company’s growth.
“With a young population, high mobile penetration and just three percent of the region’s retail sales currently conducted online, we feel very confident to double down on Southeast Asia,” Peng said. “Lazada is well-positioned for the next phase of development and of Internet-enabled commerce in this region.”
Alibaba’s doubling down in Southeast Asia comes just three months after Amazon launched its Prime service in Singapore.
“This is part of [Lazada’s] overseas expansion strategy, where it’s using a specific platform as a testing ground,” Steven Zhu, a Shanghai-based analyst with Pacific Epoch, told Bloomberg. “Now it’s going to run operations itself.”