JP Morgan’s love-in with Rocket Internet is continuing after the Germany-based incubator confirmed that the firm will invest in Lazada, its Southeast Asia-based online retailer. An announcement made today confirms recent speculation which hinted that JP Morgan was close to closing out the deal.
The investment, which marks Rocket Internet’s first for a business in Southeast Asia, is undisclosed, however sources close to the company told TNW it is worth “upwards of $50 million”, while one suggested it could be as high as $100 million. The exact size of JP Morgan’s stake was also not revealed in the press release, although we understand that further details of the deal will be communicated this month.
The deal is the latest in a long line that have seen JP Morgan pump cash into various Rocket Internet ‘clones’ within the online retail space. Of late, it has agreed to put $20-$40 million into Russia-based Lamoda, an undisclosed figure into German footwear seller Zalando, $20 million into Australia-based The Iconic and $45 million into Brazilian service Dafiti.
“We feel very honoured to welcome JP Morgan to our investor group and are particularly excited to be joined by an investor that shares our vision and belief in the huge potential of this populous region replicating online shopping behaviours in developed countries”, Lazada regional CEO Maximilian Bittner said, before emphasising that the investment will support further growth.
Bittner’s opposite number, JP Morgan asset management portfolio manager Robert Cousin, who worked on the deal from New York, confirmed the deal in a canned comment that reads: “We are excited to partner with Lazada as it continues to expand its eCommerce presence in Southeast Asia.”
Lazada is operational in five markets — Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam — and has more than 1,000 employees, however the company, and Rocket Internet generally, has struggled to adapt to Southeast Asia since launching in March.
Various businesses have experienced high profile issues, including a ‘revolving door’ of senior management hires and the closing of some businesses, while many local workers have found problems adjusting to the demands of the company’s work ethic.
Last week sources close to TNW speculated that an upcoming round — of which JP Morgan was a “big part” — is being put together and, to that point, founding partner Marc Samwer has taken the lead on the Rocket Internet operations in Southeast Asia.
The full details of the press release are below:
LAZADA, the leading online department store in Southeast Asia, has confirmed an investment by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, which will take a stake in LAZADA through its German holding.
Following its parallel launch in five Southeast Asian countries during the spring of 2012, LAZADA has become the fastest growing online department store in the region. Since then, LAZADA has surpassed most established local and international competitors and according to web ranking site Alexa.com it is already ranking among the top local B2C eCommerce sites in all of its markets. This growth is a testament to the huge potential of this region with a population of more than 600 million people and a growing young middle-class which are embracing new online experiences – ranging from eCommerce to social media – at an ever increasing pace through their mobile phones or other connected devices.
With the support of Rocket Internet, the leading global online venture incubator (e.g. Zalando, Dafiti), LAZADA has already established itself as a household name in the region by providing a one-stop shopping experience online. With an unrivalled brand and product selection available online, LAZADA has developed a wide offering ranging from consumer electronics to household goods, toys and sports equipment. Today, approximately 1,000 employees are operating streamlined businesses with own logistics and distribution centers in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia.
“We feel very honoured to welcome J.P. Morgan to our investor group and are particularly excited to be joined by an investor that shares our vision and belief in the huge potential of this populous region replicating online shopping behaviours in developed countries”, regional CEO Maximilian Bittner commented. “This will further support our growth as we strive to offer all of our customers fast, convenient and secure online shopping experiences”.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management Portfolio Manager Robert Cousin, who worked on the deal from New York, confirmed the transaction, saying, “We are excited to partner with LAZADA as it continues to expand its eCommerce presence in Southeast Asia.
Image via Flickr / Jurvetson