[THE INVESTOR] China’s top e-commerce firms Alibaba and JD.com are considering investing in the Malaysian subsidiary of Korean online marketplace 11st, the Korea Economic Daily reported on Oct. 17.
The Chinese companies are weighing their options to see whether it can help them further expand in Asia, the report said, citing industry sources.
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This is not the first time that the pair is hunting for acquisitions to speed up expansion. Alibaba acquired an 83 percent stake in Southeast Asian online shopping firm Lazada in May. While JD.com invested 5 billion won (US$4.42 million) in June to establish an online shopping platform in Thailand with local retailer Central.
SK Planet, which owns a 51 percent stake in Celcom Planet, the operator of 11st in Malaysia, declined to comment.
Celcom Planet was formed as a joint venture in 2014 between SK Planet and Malaysian telcom company Celcom Axiata.
The online platform has seen mounting losses over the years, and it recently started looking for strategic partners. In 2016, 11st’s net loss reached 41.7 billion won (US$36.83 million). This year, SK Planet injected 40 billion won, but the situation has not improved.
The parent company also recently sold its joint venture in Indonesia to local retail giant Salim Group after turning red.
Retail giant Lotte, which has a big online presence, was seeking to acquire 11st's Korean headquarters, but sources say SK Telecom -- the parent company of SK Planet -- refused to accept terms of the deal. Shinsegae is now reportedly back in talks after the initial efforts appeared to fall apart.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)