LivingSocial pulls outs of Southeast Asia with sale of its remaining regional business units


Tim O’Shaughnessy is stepping down as the CEO of LivingSocial this year. The company said Tuesday it would sell its Southeast Asia businesses. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Jeffrey MacMillan)

LivingSocial is selling off the last of its operations in Southeast Asia for $18.5 million, an arrangement that executives said will add money to its reserves as the company looks to get back on a path of growth.

Singapore-based online deals company iBuy Group will pay cash for LivingSocial’s operations in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, known collectively as Ensogo Holdings.

Those outposts were focused primarily on selling daily deals and consumer goods, both lines of business that LivingSocial has sought to move away from in the past year, Chief Financial Officer John Bax said in an interview Tuesday.

Additionally, the Southeast Asian operations used a different technological platform than the company’s other businesses worldwide, and Bax said there were no immediate plans to spend money to bring them onto that same platform.

“We had multiple parties approach us about Southeast Asia, and in dealing with our local management there, we thought iBuy was the best fit and they produced an offer that was good for us,” Bax said.

“It’s a big war chest that we can use to compete on our platform around the globe,” he added. “You’ll see us get pretty aggressive on marketing and product innovation, and we can fund it all on one platform.”

Bax would not say whether the Southeast Asian businesses were profitable or disclose whether the sale price was higher or lower than what LivingSocial paid to acquire the firms in 2011.

LivingSocial made a deliberate shift away from daily deals last September, expanding the marketing options it offers merchants to include online coupons and long-term deals. Executives have said they plan to focus on growth in 2014, not profitability,as they try to attract new consumers and merchants to their Web site.

As part of that return to growth, LivingSocial continues to shed businesses that are no longer considered a priority.

LivingSocial agreed to sell South Korea-based Ticket Monster, one of its largest overseas operations, to rival e-commerce company Groupon for $260 million in cash and stock last November. That deal closed in January.

Later that month, executives announced the company would no longer produce its own live events and, as a result, close the facility at 918 F St. NW, where it regularly held concerts, cooking demonstrations, art classes and other social gatherings.

But perhaps the biggest change for LivingSocial still lies ahead. Its board of directors is searching for a chief executive to succeed Tim O’Shaughnessy, who will step down later this year after establishing the firm seven years ago with three co-founders.

Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community. For more Washington business news, go to capbiz.biz.

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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