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Alibaba to open office in Australia

Alibaba, the e-commerce colossus that processed transactions worth USD149 billion in the December quarter alone, said at an event in Hangzhou a week ago it would open an Australian office “later this year”.

And Fairfax Media has learned it has already made one senior hire for that office: James Hudson, the chief executive of the NSW branch of the Australia-China Business Council, will join the business next month. John O’Loghlen, a New Zealand-born entrepreneur, has also joined the company.

Alibaba, founded by entrepreneur Jack Ma and listed on the New York Stock Exchange with a market value of nearly USD200 billion, has had a senior executive, Maggie Zhou, in charge of the Australia and New Zealand region for at least two years. But she travels between China and Australia and has been based primarily in Hangzhou.

The company signalled that the move to establish an Australian office is designed to help local brands tap into the gigantic Chinese market, where Alibaba has 407 million active buyers on its platforms. However, the decision to establish a fully-fledged office in Australia will fuel speculation it sees an opportunity for Australian consumers to buy products on its sites.