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Business deals

Thailand's TCC Group acquires local Tarad.com marketplace

Beverage maker joins growing e-commerce fray, but will shift new unit to services

TCC Group will buy a majority stake in compatriot Tarad.com, a leading e-commerce company.

BANGKOK -- Thai beverage and retail conglomerate TCC Group will take its first major step into the country's e-commerce industry by purchasing a majority stake in Tarad.com, a leading domestic e-marketplace operator.

Billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's group joins other large conglomerates entering the growing field such as retail operator Central Group and agribusiness firm Charoen Pokphand Group.

TSpace Digital, an e-commerce solutions provider registered this month under TCC Group, will buy 51% of the shares for an undisclosed amount from Tarad.com founder and CEO Pawoot Pongvitayapanu, who owns the entire company.

A live presentation Tuesday on Facebook revealed that the new venture will phase out Tarad.com's e-marketplace business amid strong competition from international operators expanding in Thailand such as Taiwan's Shopee, South Korea's 11th Street and Lazada, which is backed by China's Alibaba Group Holding.

Instead, the venture will focus on solutions such as providing data analytics, marketing, advertising and e-payment expertise to other e-marketplace operators.

An e-commerce channel for goods under the TCC Group is planned in the long term. The group's subsidiaries include Big C, the largest supermarket operator in Thailand, and trading firm Berli Jucker, which manufactures and distributes various consumer goods. TCC flagship company Thai Beverage makes Chang Beer and the Oishi sweet tea-flavored beverage, both of which are leading brands in their respective markets.

Tarad.com, founded in 1999, claims to be the oldest e-marketplace in Thailand. Japanese e-commerce powerhouse Rakuten acquired the company in 2009 but sold it off in 2016 upon exiting Southeast Asia. Tarad.com has since lacked adequate funding to compete with its larger international rivals, Pawoot said.

Central Group teamed with China's No. 2 e-commerce operator JD.com and plans to debut a new service in Thailand soon. CP Group provides digital payment service TrueMoney under its subsidiary Ascend Money. Ant Financial, the operator behind Chinese digital payment leader Alipay, acquired a 20% stake in Ascend Money in 2016.

Thailand's e-commerce market looks to grow 29% over the next 10 years from the current $900 million, a 2016 report by Google and Singapore's Temasek found.

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