Alibaba pledges to focus on overseas e-commerce as growth in China slows

China’s Alibaba told its investors on Friday that overseas e-commerce would be a key focus as it looks for new sources of growth after a difficult year at home.

Earlier this month, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd restructured its e-commerce business into independent China and international divisions, with the latter being led by Jiang Fan, head of Alibaba, Taobao and Tmall flagship markets.

Alibaba’s Deputy CFO Toby Xu, in his first major public statements since being appointed this month to take over as CFO, said international e-commerce “will become one of the key drivers of growth,” adding that 57 percent of Cainiao’s revenue, Alibaba’s logistics unit, comes from abroad.

At the beginning of the two-day investor event, Alibaba said it had set a target of $ 100 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) for Lazada, its e-commerce service for Southeast Asia.

Lazada generated $ 21 billion in GMV from September 2020 to the same month in 2021, the presentation showed.

Outgoing CFO Maggie Wu said Alibaba would include international trade in Alibaba’s largest “Core Commerce” financial segment in earnings, along with trade from its domestic markets.

Local consumer services, including delivery and mapping services, and Cainiao will also fall into this category.

There was also a nod to social welfare, with four of the seven investment categories outlined by Xu related to initiatives like China’s rural revitalization and aging population.

Meanwhile, CEO Daniel Zhang has pledged to cut emissions from Alibaba’s supply chains and transportation networks by 50 percent by the end of the decade.

The presentation missed some mention of Ant Group, the financial services company 33 percent owned by Alibaba.

Last year, Beijing stepped in at the last minute to abort a planned $ 37 billion listing of Ant. Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma subsequently slipped out of the limelight and Chinese authorities began a yearlong regulatory crackdown.

In November, Alibaba cut its annual revenue forecast for its current fiscal year from an initial growth target of 29.5 percent to between 20 and 23 percent.

The company has faced stiff competition from rivals such as Pinduoduo Inc, which has won over consumers in rural China, and ByteDance-owned Douyin, which has grown into the burgeoning live-streamed e-commerce sector of China.

By Josh Horwitz; Edited by Shri Navaratnam and Alexander Smith

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