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Alibaba hires former LocalOye Chief business officer for India team

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Alibaba has begun its preparation in full swings for its keenly awaited independent entry into the Indian e-commerce scene. After bringing former associate at IDG Ventures, Soumitra Sharma, as Director of global strategies, Alibaba has roped in former Chief business officer of LocalOye, Bharati Balakrishnan for its India team.

According to a report in the ET, Bharati Balakrishnan is the first senior recruitment for Alibaba’s local team of Indian operations. She is expected to work with Soumitra Sharma to make an initial strategy for Alibaba to kickstart operations in India.

Bharati Balakrishnan has previously worked with Bain & Company and startup Healthspring as a consultant. Sharma is reportedly in charge of forming a strategy for overall Asia and US operations as well but for now, his priority will be to work with Balakrishnan and allow a smooth direct entry of Alibaba in India.

Alibaba already has an indirect presence in India through its investments in Indian e-commerce companies PayTm and Snapdeal. It holds a majority share of 40% in PayTm while a minority share in Snapdeal.

There have been speculations about Alibaba raising its stake in PayTm to 70% and PayTm spinning off its e-commerce marketplace to Alibaba to help in its organic expansion into the country. However, nothing is confirmed yet apart from an official announcement by Alibaba earlier this year that it was planning to enter India directly in the second half of this year.

The announcement was made during the India visit of Alibaba Group president Michael Evan. He, along with global MD K Guru Gowrappan also met Tata group chairman Cyrus Mistry for a possible partnership.

The partnership could help Alibaba in developing strong backend system involving logistics, offline stores and omni-channel support to its e-commerce business. The path to Chinese behemoth’s debut in India was further made clear by relaxation in FDI norms this year which allowed 100% FDI in marketplace model of e-commerce business.

India is not the only new market Chinese retail giant is targeting. The company has its eyes on expansion in whole Asia region and recently invested a huge sum of $1 billion in Lazada which is one of the biggest eCommerce platforms in Southeast Asia.

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