Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Alibaba Makes $2.9 Billion Investment in Sun Art

Alibaba buys 36.2 per cent stake in Wal-Mart style hypermarket chain for US$2.9 billion Alibaba buys stake in Chinese hypermarket chain Sun Art
Preston Stone | 20 November, 2017, 19:08

The deal will give Sun Art access to Alibaba's digital ecosystem, providing new digitised retail solutions including online and offline integration, fulfilment and customer experiences.

Sun Art holds about 8.2% of China's grocery market.

"Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalised services in the digital economy,"AlibabaChief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said in the statement". Alibaba is buying the shares from existing shareholder Ruentex Group.

Alibaba, Auchan Retail, and Ruentex Group said in a joint statement that Alibaba would buy the stake from Ruentex while Auchan Retail would lift its stake.

The broader goal is to tap China's massive retail space worth approximately $5 trillion and comprising both online and offline options.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group said in a filing that its subsidiary Taobao China Holding will buy a direct 26-per cent stake in the company from Kofu and Concord Greater China for HK$16.1billion ($2.1bn), at around HK$6.50 a share.

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Jack Ma's group has already invested almost $10 billion in the brick and mortar retail space, and one of its key motivations is the fact that the e-commerce market in urban China is slowly approaching saturation.

Alibaba's essentially using Sun Art to quicken an assault on the $4 trillion brick-and-mortar retail arena, escalating competition with Wal-Mart in the hypermarts that hawk everything from fresh produce to electronics.

"Bringing together the leaders of in-store retail and of online retail will allow us to serve hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers a fully integrated, world-class shopping experience", said Wilhelm Hubner, chief executive of Auchan Retail, which will slightly raise its stake in Sun Art as part of the deal.

The $474 billion firm is taking more risks to secure offline, rural and overseas buyers as China's urban e-commerce market shows signs of saturating, including purchasing extensive infrastructure which it had previously avoided.

"On one hand, they really need to do it, but on the other hand, they are facing a lot of challenges that they have never experienced before". It also runs unstaffed stores under the "Auchan Minute" brand.

Apart from 20 Hema supermarkets in China, Alibaba also has a strategic partnership with China's largest supermarket operator Bailian Group and a stake in Bailian Group's largest chain Lianhua Supermarket, notes The Drum.

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