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Alibaba thrives and gets set to hire another 5,000 staff

ALIBABA Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese Internet company whose biggest shareholder is Yahoo! Inc, said it will step up hiring this year to tap growth in the world's largest online market.

The parent of Ltd plans to hire 5,000 people to increase its head count to more than 17,000 by the end of this year, spokesman John Spelich told Bloomberg News from Hong Kong yesterday. The Hangzhou, east China-based company hired about 4,000 people last year, he said.

Recruitment this year will be focused on China, while Alibaba also plans to extend hiring in the United States and Europe, Spelich said.

China passed the US to become the world's biggest Internet market, with 298 million Web users at the end of last year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a state-controlled agency.

Overseas technology giants, however, have continued to lay off people as they became more affected by the global financial crisis.

Motorola Inc yesterday said it would lay off 4,000 jobs globally, 6 percent of the total employee base, including some in China, to cut costs in the tough financial environment.

The majority of the layoffs, about 3,000, are in the handset business sector in regional markets, including China, according to Chen Lei, Motorola's spokesperson, who said the company didn't announce detailed layoff figures based on region.

"That obviously doesn't mean we will shrink the business in China (the world's No. 1 mobile phone market). We will increase investment on research of handset systems like the Google-developed Android," Chen said.

Google was another technology giant cutting jobs recently. Google, the star firm of the dot-com industry, said it would cut 100 employee recruitment jobs globally.

Microsoft will also announce it will lay off 15,000 people, 16 percent of its employees, next week, media reported.

Microsoft China declined to comment yesterday.

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has offered cheaper plans to try to lure more Chinese companies to market goods on Alibaba's Website as the global recession eroded overseas demand for shoes, toys and electronics. The company has also earmarked 5 billion yuan (US$731 million) for spending on its Taobao online-auction site as consumers in China increase Internet purchasing.

"The lower pricing will help them expand their market share," said Wendy Huang, who rates shares "hold" at ABN Amro Holdings NV in Hong Kong. Other Chinese Web companies, including Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd, are also indicating they plan to increase hiring, she said.


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