Singapore Billionaire Forrest Li’s Sea Shuts Indian E-Commerce Unit Amid Global Market Uncertainties

A woman holds a smartphone with the Shopee logo displayed on her screen.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sea Ltd.—controlled by Singapore billionaire Forrest Li—is shutting down its Shopee India unit as the loss making tech giant consolidates its e-commerce business following an aggressive global expansion in recent years.

“In view of global market uncertainties, we have decided to close our early stage Shopee India initiative,” Sea said in a statement on Monday. “During this period of transition, we will focus on supporting our local seller and buyer communities and our local team to make the process as smooth as possible.”

Sea—which is partly owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings—will start withdrawing from India today, barely six months after launching the e-commerce service in the world’s second most populous country in October. The closure follows Shopee’s exit from France earlier this month as the e-commerce firm focuses on growth markets across Brazil, Southeast and Taiwan.

The company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017 and quickly became Southeast Asia’s most valuable tech company with the stock soaring to an all-time high of $366.99 a share in October 2021 as the pandemic boosted demand for its online gaming, e-commerce and digital payments businesses.

Since then, however, Sea’s shares have slumped more than 60% due to a confluence of factors—Tencent reduced its stake, the company’s flagship mobile game Free Fire was banned in India and its net loss widened. While the group’s revenue more than doubled to about $10 billion in 2021, its net loss widened to $2 billion from $1.6 billion.

The uncertainties dragged the fortunes of the company’s three billionaire cofounders, with the real-time net worth of Sea chairman Li, 44, tumbling to $6.5 billion this week from $15.9 billion in August when the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest was published. Li cofounded Sea with Gang Ye and David Chen in 2009, the year the trio launched online gaming platform Garena. Originally from mainland China, the partners are now naturalized Singapore citizens.

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