Alibaba Group is launching a US$15 billion (HK$117 billion) drive to build overseas research hubs as the deep- pocketed firm looks to compete with global leaders in e-commerce, logistics and cloud technology.
Alibaba's "Damo" academy will launch eight research bases in China, Israel, the United States, Russia and Singapore. It will also hire 100 researchers to work on artificial intelligence, quantum computing and fintech, the company said yesterday.
China's top e-commerce firm and its affiliates have undergone a rapid expansion in the past year, bringing it into direct competition with US e-retailer Amazon.com, as well as global payments, cloud and logistics firms.
Since last year Alibaba has invested an estimated US$2 billion to acquire a majority stake in Singapore-based retailer Lazada.com, creating a network of e-commerce hubs across Southeast Asia in partnership with payment affiliate Ant Financial.
It has also pursued a US$1.2 billion bid for US money transfer service MoneyGram, in a pending deal that has come under scrutiny from critics who say it poses a national security threat.
Separately, Indian ride-hailing firm Ola has raised US$1.1 billion from investors, led by China's Tencent Holdings and Japan's SoftBank Group and is in advanced talks with other investors for another US$1 billion.
The funds will give a leg up to Ola that has been locked in a fierce battle with rival Uber for a bigger piece of India's US$12 billion taxi market. Ola will use the funds to increase the number of its drivers and expand its presence to more cities, it said yesterday.
Hong Kong-based logistics on- demand delivery startup, Lalamove, completed its Series C financing round, raising US$100 million.
Led by mainland's ShunWei Capital, a venture capitalist firm co-founded by Xiaomi's chief executive Lei Jun, Lalamove is expected to be worth US$1 billion.
Hengten Networks Group (0136) meanwhile slumped around 11 percent at the close after soaring 14 percent in early trading.