Alibaba sparks hope for Asia e-commerce firms

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Alibaba's blockbuster trading debut in the U.S. last month generated a sense of optimism among Asia's e-commerce players, who believe that the Chinese behemoth's success bodes well for them.

Hong Kong-based online retailer eCargo, for instance, believes the euphoria surrounding Alibaba's record initial public offering (IPO) is positive for its upcoming listing in Australia.

"We believe that Alibaba and Jack Ma are great ambassadors for the e-commerce market in China. I think they did very well in telling the story of China's e-commerce and most importantly, draw the picture where we are headed for the coming years," CEO Christopher Lau told CNBC Asia's "Street Signs" on Tuesday.

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eCargo hopes to raise up to $35 million (approximately 40 million Australian dollars) through the IPO, which values the firm at $198 million. The company has teamed up with international retailers including Australian department store Myer and British fashion label Karen Millen in the past, and believes that it offers an alternative choice for investors keen to buy into the mainland's booming e-commerce market.

"Alibaba has developed a great market online but what that market supplies is a handful of international brands and quality products. We are looking to bring more international brands into China [and] we feel this is a huge opportunity as Chinese consumers switch towards higher quality products and better brands," Lau said.

eCargo CEO: Australia listing was a 'no-brainer'
eCargo CEO: Australia listing was a 'no-brainer'   

Beyond China

Major e-commerce companies across Asia also read the results of Alibaba's IPO as an indication of investor confidence in the sector.

"The Alibaba IPO validates [the argument that] there is a large opportunity in Asia's emerging markets for e-commerce," said Sachin Bansal, co-founder and CEO of Indian e-retailer Flipkart, according to Business Standard. "It's a great example and very motivational for us."

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Malaysia's e-payment services giant, MOL Global, was also banking on the Alibaba-induced euphoria as it debut on the Nasdaq Composite on Thursday (October 9). It will be the first Malaysia-based firm to list on a U.S. exchange in over 10 years; the float has generated positive response with its book covered after first day of bookbuilding.

The company, which is majority-owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, raised $263 million by offering 13.5 million shares at $12.50 - the low end of price range.

However, shares of the Malaysian online payment provider closed down over 4 percent at $8.14.

"U.S. investors are interested in MOL because of its leading position in the under-penetrated Southeast Asian markets, high growth rate and profitability," Kathleen Smith, IPO ETF manager at Renaissance Capital, told CNBC via email.

"However, they also took issue with the valuation that bakes in higher than average growth forecasts and the poor trading of its peers [like] Qiwi, Xoom and Qihoo 360 over the past month. Despite the success of Alibaba's IPO, investors are still very selective about the quality of the company and its valuation," Smith added.

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Cautious view

Some people may be overestimating the extent to which Alibaba's record IPO will benefit its e-commerce peers, said Jeff Dorr, equity analyst at J Capital Research.

"Alibaba's stock performance will probably be examined as a point of reference during the IPO for these e-commerce listings, but ultimately, in the long run, the stock performance of each company is going to depend on their individual profits," Dorr said.

Investors have to question how similar these other businesses are to Alibaba, he added: "Do they hold inventory, do they control their own payment system and what is the market penetration of their e-commerce in these countries."