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Jack Ma eyes India as the next investment hub for Alibaba

MUMBAI: Loaded with surplus cash, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding, is eyeing India as his next major investment hub in the e-commerce space.

Ma has deployed a high-level team to increase engagement with India, promising to invest more and is likely to hire Indian talent.

Addressing Indian businessmen at a Ficci event, he said, “Of course, we will invest.”

He mentioned this after he was asked if his company would pump in money in India given that online commerce is on a surge here.

China’s wealthiest man with an estimated net worth of $30 billion, Ma said he will invest more in India and work with Indian entrepreneurs and technologists to improve the relationship of the two nations and the lives of human beings.

He also highlighted the importance of internet. “Internet has the potential to change India. India is a nation with passion, hope. I strongly believe the internet is a business of young people. India is a nation of mobile phones,” he said.

Citing an example of his own past, Ma said that he was a college teacher and it was the Internet that changed him and China. India is a great nation with so many young people, and the Internet will change India too.

Referring to the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Ma said entrepreneurs can work together. “Right now is a wonderful time for the businesses of India and China to work together. If both nations work together, they will benefit from each other. These two nations have great culture and are influenced by new technology. I believe this is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs of both nations to work together to improve the culture, and the world.”

In a surprising statement, Ma stated that he is mainly interested in India, as the country is the second-largest sourcing centre after China.

Ma said spices, chocolates and tea were the top three products sourced from India and acknowledged that the market had been ignored in the past.

“Indians suppliers are smart. They are the second-highest Alibaba users after China. They use our site often. We are improving technology to transform Alibaba into a platform that’ll help small business in India,” he said.

Ma said he would return to India, as he is presently in talks with businessmen. He was in India as part of India-China (Zhejiang) Business Cooperation Conference and was attending a session hosted by Ficci.

The Chinese businessman, who started Alibaba in 1999 after giving up teaching, raised a record $25 billion in the US through an initial public offering.