SEA’s Shopee shuts operations in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico —sources

September 29, 2022 - 10:57 AM
The logo of Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Southeast Asia's Sea Ltd, is pictured at their office in Singapore, March 5, 2021. (Reuters/Edgar Su/File Photo)

Sea Ltd’s SE.N e-commerce arm told employees on September 8 it was shutting local operations in Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and leaving Argentina entirely, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter and an internal email.

The Singapore-based company will maintain cross-border operations in the first three markets but will cut the majority of its teams in the countries, affecting dozens of employees, the sources said. Brazil, in which Shopee has become a dominant player, will not be affected.

In an internal email seen by Reuters, Shopee Chief Executive Chris Feng wrote to employees that “in light of the current elevated macro uncertainty,” the company needed to “focus resources on core operations” and had decided to concentrate on a cross-border model in Mexico, Colombia and Chile.

Shopee confirmed later in a statement to Reuters it would operate a “cross-border model in Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and close in Argentina.”

Sea saw its market value soar to more than $200 billion last October as its gaming and e-commerce units surged in popularity during the pandemic, but its shares have tumbled since then and are now worth just $27 billion.

Sea’s leadership have given internal directives to Shopee managers to achieve profitability in its key markets in Southeast Asia by 2023, a separate source told Reuters.

Shopee has been around for seven to eight years … so now they have to focus their effort on turning a profit at its core markets,” said Ke Yan, lead analyst at Singapore-based DZT Research.

Shopee announced in March it was shutting down nascent operations in India and France.

In June, Shopee cut jobs across its e-commerce and food delivery divisions, according to sources, both in Southeast Asia and its Latin American operations. Shopee has also rescinded dozens of job offers in the past two weeks, Reuters reported earlier this week.

Staff at Sea’s gaming livestream app, which is part of Sea’s gaming unit Garena, were told they would be let go, separate sources told Reuters, adding that projects at Sea’s development unit were also shut down.

—Reporting by Fanny Potkin in Singapore, Josh Ye in Hong Kong and Kenneth Li in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Hogue