4:31 pm - Thursday November 5, 2015

Alibaba founder Jack Ma in India; to meet Snapdeal’s Kunal Bahl

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NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: Alibaba founder Jack Ma is on a visit to India, his first to the country after a record-shattering initial share sale saw the ecommerce company raise $25 billion (Rs 1.5 lakh crore) in September. Ma, who is China’s wealthiest man with a net worth of nearly $30 billion, is in India as part of a business delegation and has met several Indian entrepreneurs, according to those familiar with the details of his visit.

Sources said that in the list of entrepreneurs meeting Ma is Snapdeal’s Kunal Bahl. SoftBank is an investor in both Alibaba and Snapdeal and ET reported in September that the Chinese firm is considering an investment in the Indian e-tailer to enter the country.

Alibaba did not reply to questions about Ma’s meetings. However, spokeswoman Pamela Munoz said, “Jack is in India with a business delegation and, together, will be participating in a number of meetings with local businesses.”
Ma is the latest in a long line of global business leaders who have traveled to India after the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Canadian investor Prem Watsa and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son have all visited since May, an indication of the increasing attractiveness of India as an investment destination. Son, who has vowed to invest $10 billion in India, has put $627 million into Snapdeal, led a $210-million round of funding in taxi aggregator Olacabs and invested an estimated $70 million in realty portal Housing.com.
Alibaba, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has a market value of nearly $280 billion, is being seen as a rival to Amazon in the US and around the world. While Amazon is rapidly scaling up its presence in India and vying with Flipkart and Snapdeal for market leadership, Alibaba has not yet set foot in what is one of the world’s largest markets for online retail.

Ma, a former English teacher who keeps a very low profile, was last in India in 2009 just ahead of the general election that returned the UPA to power. This time, he is part of a Chinese business delegation from his home province Zhejiang.

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