The organization declared that it has exhausted HK$22.4 billion (around US$2.88 billion) to receive 36.16 percent in Sun Art Retail Group, a Hong Kong-registered business that runs 446 hypermarkets across 224 cities in mainland China.
Alibaba shares are now poised to open a little higher Monday, following news it will take a stake in China's largest grocer, Sun Art. Ruentex, the shareholder that sold their stake to Alibaba retains 4.67%, while the French retailer Auchan Retail with 36.18% is the biggest investor.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has made yet another key investment in the Chinese retail space, this time acquiring a large piece of a major supermarket chain.
Alibaba acquired the stake in Sun Art Retail at HK$6.50 per share - a sharp discount to the target company's current share price - and said it will separately make a "possible" mandatory cash offer for Sun Art Retail shares at the same price.
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Auchan Retail's chief executive officer Wilhelm Hubner said the alliance stemmed from the companies shared visions for the future of commerce in China. The Chinese e-commerce giant said that the partnership will speed up its efforts to merge online and offline shopping into an "omnichannel" consumer experience, leveraging its own assets, ecosystem and technology.
"Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced by data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy", Daniel Zhang, chief executive of Alibaba Group, said in a joint statement by the three companies.
The alliance is a response to the "tremendous" change in consumer demands and the rapid growth of mobile internet, according to Ruentex Group vice chairman Peter Huang. "Ruentex is delighted to see the win-win collaboration between Sun Art and Alibaba with high synergies in online and offline that will meet the needs of consumers for a better life with better products and services and higher efficiency". It's betting that a move into physical commerce will pump-prime its main online business, rope in millions of new shoppers and expand its network into a relatively untapped Chinese hinterland.
Reuters noted that Alibaba has invested upwards of US$9.3 billion in brick-and-mortar stores in recent years.
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In January this year, Alibaba snapped up the remaining stake in InTime and took the company private.
Sun Art Retail Group is the leading multi-format offline food retailer in China.
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