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BEIJING (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) has hired former Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) partner Michael Evans to oversee the e-commerce company's international expansion, a top priority as the firm looks beyond China to sustain its heady growth rates.
Evans, who spent two decades at the investment bank in positions including vice chairman and head of Asia, has occupied a board seat at Alibaba since mid-2014, before the company held a record-setting public listing in New York.
Alibaba, by far the largest e-commerce player in China, said hiring Evans signaled its intention to ramp up cross-border commerce in earnest after it spent years focusing on securing its domestic market position.
Top executives have long touted the idea that connecting increasingly wealthy Chinese consumers with, say, South American meat producers or European toy makers would generate billions in additional revenue for the firm.
Evans, who once headed Goldman's equity underwriting arm, has no direct experience in e-commerce but is trusted by Alibaba's management, having known founder Jack Ma and Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai for years.
He will continue as a management director and lead Alibaba' growth strategy outside of China, reporting directly to Chief Executive Daniel Zhang, the company said. His position is newly created.
Zhang said in a statement that glamorization is Alibaba Group's most important strategy for the coming decades.
He added that Evans has been "a close advisor to Alibaba Group for many years, and we greatly value his deep knowledge of our business, his experience as a proven business builder and leader globally, and his more than 20 years of experience in China."
Reporting by Gerry Shih, editing by Louise Heavens