Alibaba ventures Down Under to help Australian businesses go global

Alibaba ventures Down Under to help Australian businesses go global
Alibaba Group Founder and Executive Chairman, China's Jack Ma.

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma plans to donate US$20 million (S$28.17 million) to fund a new scholarship program at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

In a statement released on Friday (Feb 3), the university said that the scholarship is the largest philanthropic commitment in its history.

The scholarship is known as the "Ma-Morley Scholarship Program", in honour of Mr Ken Morley, a late friend of the Alibaba founder.

According to the South China Morning Post, Mr Ma met Mr Morley in 1980, when the latter's family was on tour in Ma's hometown of Hangzhou as part of the Australia-China Friendship Society.

Mr Ma asked if he could talk to Mr Morley to practice his English, and the two remained friends until Mr Morley's death in 2004.

Meanwhile, Mr Ma's Alibaba Group opened the doors to its latest overseas headquarters in Melbourne on Saturday (Feb 4), marking another chapter in the e-commerce giant's worldwide expansion.

The new office is aimed at supporting the 1,300 Australian and 400 New Zealand businesses selling on Tmall and Tmall Global, Alibaba's online retail platforms, as well as attracting new merchants, according to the company's statement.

But delivering e-commerce services isn't Alibaba's sole mandate Down Under.

It also intends on building the entire operating infrastructure for regional businesses to expand globally, which includes cloud computing, online payments and logistics, said Maggie Zhou, managing director of the new Melbourne office.

Indeed, Alibaba has been increasingly focusing on the cloud. Last month, the Chinese behemoth signed a 12-year partnership with the International Olympic Committee to provide both cloud and e-commerce services.

Alibaba already boasts a strong presence in Australia and New Zealand.

Alibaba Cloud opened a data centre in Sydney last year and further expansion in sectors such as travel and digital entertainment are in the pipeline, Zhou said.

Alibaba's international business-to-business website has been operating in Australia since 1999 and more than 1,000 bricks-and-mortar stores across the two countries accept Alipay, the e-wallet app owned by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial.

Before attending the headquarter's opening ceremony on Saturday, Mr Ma met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney to discuss his e-World Trade Platform project, a blueprint for small and medium enterprises to gain exposure to the global economy.

As part of his visit, Mr Ma also signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia Post to bring the state-run logistics firm to Southeast Asia's e-commerce market via Alibaba-owned Lazada Group.

Australia Post will also work with Alibaba's logistics arm, Cainiao Network, to improve data integration and develop a cross-border delivery service for Australian outbound parcels to China, Saturday's statement said.

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