Alibaba looking at acquisitions to expand India operations: report

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which already has an indirect presence in India, is now looking to expand and is looking at M&A opportunities here.

Alibaba, which has already invested in the Indian e-commerce segment through Snapdeal and Paytm, could be looking for direct access to the growing online consumer base in India.

The company needs a physical presence both to be near to the market and spot opportunities early. It has already started the process and has set up a team in India to look at prospective targets, says a report in The Hindu Businessline.

Reports citing industry sources said Alibaba is setting up a team of executives, including from top venture capital firms and investment banks, for its M&A team.

Since Alibaba has indirect investments in e-marketplaces Snapdeal and Paytm, the report said, it is likely that the company may take the M&A route in India instead of starting from scratch.

The report said it could also begin with a minority investment in some company followed by a complete acquisition.

The report also pointed to the possibility of Alibaba combining the e-commerce business of Snapdeal and the wallet business of FreeCharge and Paytm.

The focus is to expand its foreign business as growth in urban China is maturing and revenue growth might plateau in the near future.

As of now, about half of Alibaba's overall revenues are generated outside China as per the company's December quarter results.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has already acquired Singapore-based Lazada for $1 billion and is looking at acquiring Shanghai-based Ele.me for $900 million. It has also taken a majority stake in US-based ride sharing company Lyft for $400 million recently.