Latam ecommerce giant MercadoLibre is not currently an acquisition target: CEO

FILE PHOTO: Marcos Galperin, CEO of e-commerce platform MercadoLibre, speaks during the inauguration of MercadoLibre’s new offices in Buenos Aires, Argentina June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - MercadoLibre Inc MELI.O, Latin America's largest ecommerce company which has experienced dramatic growth due to COVID-19 lockdowns, is not being pursued by global rivals as an acquisition target, its chief executive told Reuters.

“It hasn’t happened so far and I don’t expect that to happen in the short term,” Marcos Galperin said in an interview, in response to speculation of pursuit from U.S. and Chinese peers.

The Argentine firm is doubling its footprint in Brazil, its largest market, and in the July-September quarter surpassed $1 billion in overall revenue for the first time, driven by an ecommerce explosion in the region.

MercadoLibre has been expanding into content and groceries. It has launched a partnership with Walt Disney Co DIS.N and has begun distributing items usually found in supermarkets.

“We will continue making investments in that category,” Galperin said, referring to groceries.

MercadoLibre is also expanding into retail banking through payment processor Mercado Pago. In the third quarter, payments made through the unit jumped 92% to $14.5 billion.

MercadoLibre's share price has rallied in tandem with the firm's rapid growth, turning the ecommerce player into the region's most valuable company with a market capitalization of $65 billion - more than oil major Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petrobras) PETR4.SA and iron ore miner Vale SA VALE3.SA.

“We’re still far away from the ecommerce levels seen in places like China, for example,” Galperin said of growth areas. “And in financial services, I think we will see the end of cash payments in Latin America in 10 years.”

Reporting by Aluisio Alves; Editing by Christopher Cushing