Tuesday 2 February 2021 1:07 pm

Alibaba beats revenue forecasts as China crackdown looms

Alibaba beat revenue expectations for the third quarter as the ecommerce giant continued to benefit from higher demand during the pandemic despite a looming crackdown by Beijing.

Total revenue hit 221bn yuan (£25bn) in the last three months of 2020, up 37 per cent year on year.

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This was driven by record revenue of 195.5bn yuan from the group’s core commerce business, as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to drive more customers to online shopping.

Alibaba’s Singles Day sale alone, which runs for 11 days and is the world’s largest online shopping event, booked total sales of almost 500bn yuan.

But the figures come as authorities in Beijing begin a crackdown on Jack Ma, taking aim at the billionaire’s sprawling business empire after he criticised Chinese state banks and regulators.

China forced the suspension of a blockbuster $37bn stock market float for Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech division, after which Ma disappeared from public view for three months.

Alibaba’s net profit for the quarter was 79.4bn yuan, up from 52.3bn yuan the previous year.

“Whilst it’s clear that the pandemic has accelerated a trend for ecommerce that’s long been building, Alibaba has always been incredibly smart when it comes to the world of online shopping,” said Andrew Dimitriou, EMEA chief executive of marketing agency VMLY&R.

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“It will be fascinating to see how Alibaba chooses to invest next, as it moves into emerging areas such as streaming, expanding into new cities (there is clearly a lot more growth still to be had inside China) and continued merging of physical and online commerce, not least through grocery stores.”