© Reuters Sea’s (SE) Decision to Close India Operations Seen as a ‘Clear Positive’

Singapore-based global consumer internet company Sea (SE) said its e-commerce arm Shopee will shut down its operations in India amid the company’s poor growth outlook.

This is the second pullback for Shopee this month, just several weeks after it exited the market in France and after India banned Seas Free Fire app. The ban wiped off $16 billion of Seas market value in a single day, prompting some investors to offload the company’s shares.

Shopee said the pullback comes as a result of global market uncertainties and that the company will do its best to make the process as smooth as possible.

A few weeks ago, Sea said it expects Shopee’s revenue growth to decline to roughly 76% in 2022, after seeing an outstanding 157% growth last year, due to weaker engagements and online purchases.

Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Goodridge sees the decision as a clear positive for SE as we have struggled to make the underlying unit economics work in the India market.

“We view this as a positive announcement for two key reasons: 1) Management has continued to demonstrate a flexible capital allocation process, where now the risk return on entering India is no longer attractive; and 2) it should help to control expanding ecommerce losses … we have always struggled to make the unit economics for Shopee India work “ this is due to the very competitive landscape, Shopee’s very low Average Order Value, and relatively high logistics costs. In our note Sea Ltd: Shopee Poland + Shopee India = More Upside, we highlighted that for Shopee to win ~5% GMV market it would cost up to ~US$900m in annual EBITDA losses. Hence, SE’s no longer pursuing this strategy is a clear positive, in our view,” Goodridge said in a client note.

The analyst finds the current companys market valuation as attractive.

UBS analyst Navin Killa also reflected positively on SEs decision, saying it may signal an improving discipline in cash burn.

“We believe the exit should be viewed positively by the market: 1) this supports management’s commentary during FY21 earnings call that the company would take a more calibrated approach towards investments especially on international opportunities ex-ASEAN and Taiwan (with Brazil as the key focus); and 2) it removes the potential of high cash burn from competing with an ultra-competitive Indian e-commerce market with global and local giants such as Amazon (NASDAQ:), Flipkart and JioMart,” Killa wrote in a memo.

By Senad Karaahmetovic

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