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Alibaba invests in South Korean fashion app Ably

Alibaba Group is taking a minority stake in South Korea’s Ably, serving as the Chinese e-commerce giant’s latest investment in the Korean market.

SEE ALSO: Alibaba to invest USD 1.1 billion in South Korea to take on Coupang

According to local media reports, Alibaba’s international arm AliExpress is in talks with Ably Corp., the operator of the leading Korean women’s clothing shopping app, to invest KRW 100 billion (USD 72.4 million) for around a 5 percent stake.

Valued at some KRW 2 trillion, Ably is also looking for another KRW 100 billion investment from global investors such as Canadian pension giant Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, UK private fund manager Permira and Luxemburg-based CVC Capital Partners, the report added.

Founded in 2018, Ably has grown to become a major e-commerce player in Korea.

In comparison to other online shopping apps in Korea, Ably last month clocked 8.05 million Monthly Active Users (MAU), and ranks fourth following Coupang’s 30.86 million, AliExpress’ 8.87 million and Temu’s 8.29 million, and is followed by 11Street’s 7.4 million and Gmarket Inc.’s 5.48 million, according to mobile data research firm Wiseapp.

Alibaba’s investment looks to steps up the Chinese firm’s overseas expansion amid the global push of fashion rivals Shein and Temu, and competition from domestic retail platforms such as Gmarket and Coupang. The investment comes just weeks after Alibaba was said to be planning investments of about USD 1.1 billion in South Korea over the next three years.

The Chinese e-commerce giant said it will spend USD 200 million in 2024 on building a logistics centre on a 180,000-square-metre lot in the greater Seoul region, and is investing USD 100 million to help small and mid-sized South Korean firms sell their products overseas, according to a local media report last month.

A call centre with 300 employees also will be formed, as well as a purchasing department to sell local products overseas, the report said at the time.