Jack Ma’s Alibaba, the world’s biggest e-commerce player, is evaluating its options to enter the Pakistani market. Top officials of the company have been in Pakistan for meeting leading local players and shortlisting their investment opportunities.
Contrary to the expectations, Alibaba’s Ant Financial — formerly AliPay — seems to have locked a deal as it is starting due diligence on Telenor Bank in Pakistan, we have checked with sources.
Ant Financial is an affiliate company of Alibaba Group and is considered the most valuable fintech company in the world.
We have confirmation that Ant Financial will be starting due diligence on Telenor Bank within a couple of weeks. From what we have heard, Ant Financial might be looking at 40% shares in Telenor Bank for some $100 million or around.
Ant Financial will be investing in Telenor Bank, primarily to introduce its payment gateway in the country.
Telenor Bank decided not to comment when we asked for their viewpoint on the development.
It maybe recalled that Telenor Bank was recently renamed from Tameer Bank after Telenor Group — the parent group of Telenor Pakistan — bought cent percent stakes in it.
Telenor group previously had bought 51 percent stakes in Tameer Bank in 2008.
After completing the full acquisition, Telenor group renamed the bank to Telenor Bank and brought Easypaisa — Telenor Pakistan’s flagship product — under Telenor Bank.
While we know that AliBaba is more likely to partner with local companies, it needed a payment partner, logistics provider and an e-commerce store.
For payment, it appears that Telenor Bank is their choice.
For logistics, we know that they have met with TCS and Yayvo management, but nothing can be said with certainty on this as of yet.
Daraz – Pakistan’s biggest e-commerce store – seemed to be the most probable candidate for acquisition. But Alibaba’s meeting with TCS and Yayvo management made it another possible candidate for acquisition partly due to TCS’s countrywide delivery network.
Not to mention, Pakistan is a incredible market with over 200 million people but without any international payment gateway. This creates tremendous opportunity for companies likes AliBaba to come in and fill a gap that will reap them millions of dollars on yearly basis.
The company is likely to invest in e-commerce, their core business, to strengthen its position in a new emerging market.