Alibaba’s Taobao Bans Live Poultry Trading on Bird Flu

Alibaba’s Taobao Bans Live Poultry Trading on Bird Flu

(Corrects that Alibaba hasn’t banned poultry trading.)

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other Chinese e-commerce sites are taking steps to protect against the spread of bird flu as concerns rise the H7N9 variant that’s killed nine people could spur an epidemic.

Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao Marketplace said it would shut down online trading of live poultry “under necessary circumstances” this week. Shanghai-based Tony’s Farm and Beijing-based www.tootoo.cn have halted the sales. Web retailer 360buy Jingdong Inc. will cut down on face-face meetings with suppliers, and stop offering pork and poultry at its employee cafeteria, Richard Liu, chief executive officer of Jingdong, said in a letter to employees last week.

The H7N9 cases may become an opportunity for e-commerce companies as fears of infection prompt more people to stay home and shop online. A 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome helped make e-commerce popular just as it was getting started, said Cao Lei, a director at Hangzhou-based China e- Business Research Center.“It’s an opportunity and challenge, but in a greater sense an opportunity,” Cao said. “Consumers can cut down on traveling and shopping, and make full use of e-commerce to solve their daily supply needs.”

Out of the 33 H7N9 cases confirmed in China, nine have died as of yesterday, according to the Chinese government. There’s still no evidence that the virus is being passed from one person to another, according to the World Health Organization.

Outbreak Continues

Alibaba generated 4 billion package deliveries in 2012 through its two most popular e-commerce platforms last year, Jack Ma, the company’s chief executive officer, said in February. That accounted for 70 percent of China’s 5.7 billion parcel and express deliveries in 2012.

Alibaba doesn’t deliver packages itself. Sellers on its platforms contract the service to companies including China Postal Express & Logistics Company Ltd. (CPELCLZ) and S.F. Express Group Co.

Alibaba will adopt appropriate measures if the bird flu virus spreads, Chief Strategy Officer Zeng Ming said in a phone interview April 8. “If there is a disease outbreak, we will make a great effort to deal with it,” Zeng said at the time.

Jingdong, the second-largest business-to-customer seller in China, barred employees with fever or coughs from coming to work and has minimized employee business trips, the CEO Liu said in the letter. Jingdong has more than 30,000 employees in 360 cities.

“If the disease outbreak continues to worsen, and our delivery brothers are unavoidably exposed to infection possibilities, I would rather the company goes bust and stop operations,” said Liu. “If any of our employees get infected with the bird flu because of work, it will be a disgrace for my whole life.”

Poultry includes chickens and ducks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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