Alibaba aims to expand local business in Europe, president says

(Source: Reuters/Tingshu Wang)

Alibaba Group will make Europe top priority as it focuses on building local businesses and online platforms outside China, the president of the e-commerce giant said on Thursday.

“What we will focus more for the future is to build local businesses, so you will see something called TMall which we have in China become TMall in Europe, which means we will serve local brands and local customers in local markets,” J. Michael Evans told a technology conference in Paris.

“We have started with a pilot project in Spain which we will expand across Europe,” he said.

Alibaba announced in March it would split into six units and explore fundraising or listings for most of them, following a two-year regulatory crackdown on China’s tech sector.

Its e-commerce business is to be split, with one side covering Alibaba’s domestic-facing e-commerce marketplaces and the other its overseas e-commerce marketplaces such as Lazada, which serves Southeast Asia, and AliExpress.

Taobao and TMall are China’s dominant e-commerce marketplaces in China.

Asked about Alibaba founder Jack Ma, China’s best known entrepreneur who withdrew from public view in late 2020 after giving a speech criticising China’s regulatory system, he said Ma remained Alibaba’s biggest shareholder and still cared very much about the company.

Ma left mainland China in late 2021 for stints in Japan, Spain, Australia and Thailand, according to photographs, but returned in March a day before Alibaba announced its restructuring. He has not made any public comments during that period.

“Jack is alive, he is well, he is happy. He is teaching at a university in Tokyo and spending more time in China,” Evans said.

“He is the largest shareholder at Alibaba. This is his company, he cares as much about this company today as he did when he started it and I expect this to continue for as long as Alibaba and Jack Ma are here.”

  • Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Jason Neely, of Reuters.

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