China's JD.com announces $500M e-commerce and fintech joint ventures in Thailand

Jon Russell
E-commerce giant JD.com, the closest rival to Alibaba in China, is broadening its presence in Silicon Valley after it announced a collaboration with accelerator firm Plug and Play to seek out and work with promising U.S. startups.

Roll up, roll up... there's another e-commerce mega deal in Southeast Asia courtesy of a Chinese investor.

Following on from Alibaba's $1 billion deal with Lazada and a $1.1 billion round in Tokopedia led by Alibaba, rival Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com has announced a $500 million investment that will create e-commerce and fintech businesses in Thailand.

Southeast Asia, a region of 600 million consumers, is forecast to see its internet economy grow to $200 billion by 2025 thanks to rising internet access. That potential has attracted investment dollars from Chinese giants lie Tencent and Alibaba, and now JD.com is upping its own efforts.

The investment comes from JD.com, Thai retail group Central Group -- which owns former Rocket Internet fashion commerce portals Zalora Thailand and Zalora Vietnam -- and investment firm Provident Capital. It will see two joint ventures created which lean on JD.com's experience, expertise and technology to complement Central Group business, which has assets of close to $10 billion and some 70,000 employees across its operations.

The deal is JD.com's first in Thailand, and second in Southeast Asia more widely. It set up shop in Indonesia in 2015 and has shown an interest in two of the country's most prominent startups. It was involved in talks around a possible deal with Tokopedia -- which didn't materialize -- but it has closed a deal to invest in Go-Jek, according to sources with knowledge of negotiations.