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Central Group, discussing joint venture

Thailand’s Central Group is discussing a possible US$500 million e-commerce joint venture with, Reuters reports. chief executive Richard Liu said in June that it plans to enter the Thai market this year with the idea of using it as a hub to service other countries in the region like Malaysia and Vietnam.

The venture would help China’s second-largest e-commerce retailer expand beyond Indonesia, where it has invested in an e-commerce platform as well as travel start-up Traveloka.

Sources say the JV will focus on e-commerce and the finance sector, but the deal is being delayed because the companies have not been able to agree on ownership terms.

Thailand’s e-commerce market is worth $900 million and is expected to grow 29 per cent over the next decade, according to a report published last year by Google and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. Major players include Alibaba-backed Lazada, Thailand’s CP Group unit Ascend and South Korea’s 11street.

It estimated the e-commerce market in Southeast Asia will soar 16-fold in value to $88 billion by 2025. sought to invest in Indonesian online retailer Tokopedia last month, which instead raised $1.1 billion from a group of investors including Alibaba, says Reuters.

Meanwhile, has partnered with Qihoo 360 Technology in China to broaden sales channels through its Qihoo browser, search engine and app store.

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