Central Group, JD.com discussing joint venture

Thailand’s Central Group is discussing a possible US$500 million e-commerce joint venture with JD.com, Reuters reports.

JD.com 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.

JD.com 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, JD.com 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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