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Publishing

UPDATE 1-Alibaba seeks to form JV firm in India-CEO

* Alibaba says in talks with Infomedia 18 about joint venture

* Aims to offer 6 billion yuan in loans to SMEs by end 2009

SHANGHAI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Alibaba.com 1688.HK, China's top e-commerce company, is considering setting up a joint venture company in India to manage its B2B platform, its chief executive David Wei said on Monday.

Alibaba.com is currently in partnership with India's Infomedia 18 INFO.BO, a publishing outsourcing firm, to help Alibaba with customer service and sales and marketing.

“We are currently talking with them, it will definitely be a joint venture, and Alibaba does not seek to be a controlling stakeholder,” Wei told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference.

India is Alibaba’s second-largest overseas market by member base, with 1 million members.

Alibaba.com also launched on Monday an expansion of its loan programme to help small to medium enterprises in Shanghai, Zhejiang province and Hangzhou city.

The programme, which aims to offer 6 billion yuan ($878.3 million) in loans by the end of 2009, will be run by Alibaba.com and China Construction Bank 601939.SS.

Wei said in a statement that he expects the programme to become available in Beijing, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Guangdong province and Jiangsu province by the end of the year.

China Construction Bank, Alibaba.com and the three regional governments will set up a loan reserve pool of 60 million yuan in each region to serve as a guarantee for the loans. The pool will distribute the risk of bad debts evenly among the three parties.

Alibaba connects millions of registered small-business buyers and sellers of Chinese products online.

U.S. search engine Yahoo YHOO.O holds about 40 percent of Alibaba Group and has an investment of more than 1 percent in the listed firm. (Reporting by Melanie Lee, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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