Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has begun the process of setting up a team in India to look at merger and acquisition (M&A) opportunities. Though Alibaba has indirectly entered the Indian e-commerce segment through investments in Snapdeal and Paytm, it is widely believed that it could be looking for a more direct play in accessing the growing online consumer base here.

It is learned that Alibaba has already interviewed 10-12 executives, including a few from top venture capital firms and investment banks, to head its M&A team. The e-commerce giant may take the M&A route in India instead of starting from scratch. It might begin with a minority investment in some company followed by a complete acquisition.

Alibaba’s focus is to expand its foreign business as growth in urban China is maturing and revenue growth might plateau in the near future. According to Alibaba’s December quarter results, the company is looking at getting about 50 per cent of its overall revenues outside China.

The recent acquisition of Singapore-based Lazada for $1 billion is part of its strategy to enter new markets. Alibaba is looking at acquiring Shanghai-based Ele.me for $900 million. It also took a majority stake in US-based ride sharing company Lyft for $400 million recently.

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