Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA) is leading a $400 million investment funding round in Masan Group Corp’s retail arm, Crownx. The investment in the Vietnamese conglomerate’s retail unit marks Alibaba’s first investment in Vietnam, which is among the fastest-growing Asian economies.
Alibaba acquires a stake in Masan’s retail division, The CrownX.
The Chinese e-commerce giant is betting on robust consumer spending in Vietnam, which has been a success. The Jack ma-founded company is investing in the CrownX by acquiring a 5.5% stake of the retail unit alongside other investors such as Baring Private Equity Asia. Most importantly, the deal will strengthen Alibaba’s Southeast Asia e-commerce platform, Lazada. The investment comes when technology groups are turning their focus to the burgeoning e-commerce market in Southeast Asia.
The Crowne, which was established in 2019 following a merger between Masan’s food and beverage division and Vingrouop’s retail unit, had a pre-investment valuation of around $6.9 billion. Masan, the parent company of The CrownX, will continue holding an 80% stake in the retail division. Masan indicated that it is in advanced discussions for a more strategic investment of between $300 million and $400 million that it will close later this year.
Alibaba to leverage opportunities in Vietnam through a partnership with the Crowne
The Vietnamese conglomerate, which runs VinMart retail chain, indicated that it is partnering with Lazada to expand its digital presence in the region. The partnership will give Laxada access to a network of over 2,000 stores which means Alibaba will not have to invest much to grow its distribution network in the country.
Alibaba Group’s investment head in Southeast Asia, Kenny Ho, said that combining the company’s eCommerce platform and Vietnam’s largest retail network will be a catalyst to modernize the country’s retail landscape.
Vietnam is a fast-growing economy, and its grocery market accounts for 50% of the retail market and 25% of the country’s consumer spending, but e-commerce penetration is still limited. Lazada will compete with Singapore’s Shopee in the country.