Mainland internet firm Alibaba will take advantage of the current economic crisis to globalize its e-commerce operations, founder and Chairman Jack Ma told the Financial Times on Monday. "We are thinking about helping small- and medium-sized businesses in other parts of the world," Ma said, adding that Alibaba wants to transform itself from a China-focused operation to a global web marketplace. The firm is moving its European headquarters from Geneva to London this month, as it sees the UK as one of the most promising supplier markets. Alibaba also plans to increase its current workforce of 12,000 employees by more than 4,000 this year. Faced with declining demand for Chinese exports to Western countries, Alibaba has already launched programs to facilitate imports from other countries into China. However analysts question the short-term viability of Ma’s plan as China’s imports have also declined dramatically. Alibaba’s online trading platform Alibaba.com reported revenues of US$321 million for the first nine months of 2008.
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