China's biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is considering buying Daraz.pk, the Pakistani online retail subsidiary of Germany-based Rocket Internet, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Citing a well-placed source requesting anonymity, Bloomberg reported that Alibaba and Rocket Internet are in negotiations over a price for Daraz.pk.
It was made clear that the negotiations are at an early stage and no decisions have been made as yet.
Alibaba declined to comment on the matter, Bloomberg reported. Daraz.pk also declined to comment when contacted by Dawn.com.
Read more: Alibaba comes to Pakistan
The move comes just days after Alibaba announced it was doubling its investment in one of Southeast Asia's largest e-commerce firms, Lazada ─ a move which will boost its regional expansion.
Just last week, Alibaba's Ant Financial also said it would buy a $184.5 million (45 per cent) stake in Telenor Microfinance Bank, a subsidiary of the Telenor Group, in order to develop mobile payments and digital financial services in Pakistan, Bloomberg reported.
In 2017, Alibaba and the Pakistani government had signed a memorandum of understanding to promote Pakistan's exports by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) worldwide through e-commerce.
Alibaba, Ant Financial and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan had agreed last year to promote the growth of financial services in Pakistan in areas such as mobile and online payment services. The parties had also agreed to adopt cloud computing services to support the online and mobile e-commerce businesses of SMEs in Pakistan.
Bloomberg, citing research conducted by Euromonitor International, said the youth market in Pakistan has turned the country into one of the world's fastest-growing online and brick-and-mortar retail markets.
The market is expected to expand at a rate of 8.2pc annually from 2016 to 2021 as disposable income rises.
According to a statement issued by Daraz last month, there are 30m active internet users in Pakistan and many brands have turned their attention towards e-commerce.
Alibaba has deep ties with the Chinese government, working closely on some of the country's core technology development goals, including cloud infrastructure and big data. In recent years, the group has been aggressively courting foreign brands to set up Tmall stores to sell to China's vast and growing middle class by offering to smoothen out Chinese sales, payment and shipping processes.
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, a Chinese citizen, appears frequently with leaders from the highest echelons of the Communist Party, and both sides have voiced their support and admiration for each other.