,Chinese e-commerce firm Pinduoduo Inc reported a 146% surge in quarterly revenue on Wednesday, thanks to online shoppers buying everything from groceries to luxury products from online in a pandemic-hit year. The Shanghai-based company reported 788.4 million annual active buyers for the 12 months to the end of 2020, overtaking rival Alibaba Group to become China's largest e-commerce platform by users. Alibaba recorded 779 million annual active buyers during the same period. But shares in U.S.-listed Pinduoduo fell as much as 9% in pretrade activity on Wednesday, after founder Colin Huang Zheng told shareholders he would step down as chairman. The 41-year-old Huang, who owns about 30% of Pinduoduo, will also give up his super voting rights. Huang, who stepped down as chief executive in July, is succeded by chief technology officer Chen Lei. "Colin Huang's stepping down is a vote of confidence that Pinduoduo can go from strength to strengh even without him," said Natalie Wu, managing director of Haitong International, a Hong Kong-based stock brokerage firm and investment bank. "We do not think this could pose as a significant change to company's operation," Wu said. Total revenues rose to 26.55 billion yuan ($4.08 billion) in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, topping analysts' estimates of 19.22 billion yuan, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Pinduoduo reported marketing expenses increased 59% year on year to 14.7 billion yuan due to advertising and marketing costs. The company is investing in agriculture and launched Duo Duo Grocery, a next-day grocery pickup service in August last year. A research report by China Renaissance said Duo Duo Grocery will benefit Pinduoduo's total gross merchandise value (GMV)growth over the long term. Last year, Pinduoduo doubled its agriculture-related GMV to 270 billion yuan ($41.51 billion) from the year before. ($1 = 6.5041 Chinese yuan renminbi) (This story corrects to change analyst job title in paragraph six) REUTERS
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