KARACHI: Alibaba Group has bought the entire share capital of Rocket Internet’s Daraz Group, Rocket Internet said on Tuesday, without disclosing financial details of the transaction.
Daraz, founded in 2012, operates online marketplaces in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The unit will continue to operate under the same brand following the sale to Alibaba, Rocket said.
“Daraz will be able to leverage Alibaba’s leadership and experience in technology, online commerce, mobile payment and logistics to drive further growth in the five South Asian markets that have a combined population of over 460 million, 60% of which are under the age of 35,” said the statement.
The acquisition comes months after Ant Financial, controlled by Alibaba Group co-founder Jack Ma, decided to buy a 45% stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank for $184.5 million to further develop mobile payments and digital financial services.
The acquisition is seen by experts as a step in the expansion plan Ma has set out in the over $330-billion economy with a young population and bulging middle class.
Alibaba Group Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said the acquisition will empower entrepreneurs to better serve consumers in the region.
Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) Secretary-General Shehryar Hydri said the deal is “good news” for the country.
“This is a group level deal and Pakistan is among the biggest markets in all those countries,” Hydri told The Express Tribune, referring to the growth in the country’s e-commerce segment over the last few years.
“This kind of acquisition validates a market. It is positive for the country and the e-commerce segment.”
Officials familiar with the matter say Alibaba has plans to invest in warehouses and transportation as it looks to establish a strong footprint in the country.
“Alibaba’s acquisition of Daraz will take the IT sector ecosystem to the next level and will create a competitive atmosphere,” said Hydri. (With additional input from Reuters)