Sea’s eCommerce arm exits France a few months into Europe foray


A Shopee sign at Sea Ltd’s office in Singapore. France was one of the most significant new markets for the Singapore-based Internet giant, which embarked on an aggressive international push last year to drive growth beyond South-East Asia. — Reuters

Sea Ltd’s Shopee is pulling out of France, retreating from a major market just months after launching its maiden foray into Europe.

The site will close on March 6, Shopee said in a notice on its website in the country, promising to complete all paid orders till then.

France was one of the most significant new markets for the Singapore-based Internet giant, which embarked on an aggressive international push last year to drive growth beyond South-East Asia. The pullback marks another blow abroad for Sea, whose signature game Free Fire was banned in India last month. Shopee could now turn its focus on other key markets such as Latin America.

The move comes as the online retail and entertainment empire backed by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd faces increased regulatory scrutiny in India. Sea lost more than US$16bil (RM67.12bil) of its value in its biggest daily drop after Delhi abruptly banned its most popular mobile gaming title, underscoring the geopolitical challenges it faces in expanding its offering beyond South-East Asia.

Investors are growing concerned the ban may just be the start of Sea’s troubles. Franklin Dynatech Fund and Blackrock Capital Appreciation Fund Inc were among the asset managers that cut their holdings in Sea in January, according to data analysed by Bloomberg.

“Following a short-term, preliminary pilot, we have decided not to continue the Shopee service in France,” the company said in an emailed statement. “Other markets are unaffected. We continue to adopt an open-minded and disciplined approach to exploring new markets.” – Bloomberg

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