Alibaba pays RM15b to take over China hypermarket giant Sun Art

PARIS • China’s e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has bought a controlling US$3.6 billion (RM14.76 billion) stake in Sun Art Co Ltd which runs hundreds of hypermarkets on the mainland for French shopping giant Auchan SA.

The move to take a 72% holding in Sun Art tightens Alibaba’s grip on China’s vast e-commerce sector as it looks to soak up the new customers pushed online to buy groceries, fresh food and healthcare products by the coronavirus.

It also hands over control of 13 million sq m (140 million sq ft) of retail space in scores of cities across the country.

Sun Art was created by Auchan in 2000 with Ruentex Group and joined in an “alliance” with Alibaba in 2017.

That tie-in gave the Chinese firm ownership of around a third of the hypermaket company.

Alibaba quickly set about transforming Sun Art from a traditional

bricks-and-mortar hypermarket to an online groceries hub, matching its wider e-commerce goods business.

“Sun Art has made significant progress in the digital transformation,” Alibaba said in a statement yesterday announcing its US$3.6 billion investment.

The supermarket chain has since been “leveraging resources and technology from the Alibaba ecosystem”.

The buyout of Sun Art will boost a promise to deliver groceries within 30-60 minutes of being ordered over Alibaba’s Tmall platform, the statement added. — AFP