(Adds breakup of deal, CEO comment)
Oct 19 (Reuters) – Alibaba Group Holdings said on Monday it will invest $3.6 billion to boost its stake in hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd, gaining further ground in China’s booming retail market.
The e-commerce giant is hoping to further leverage its digital presence to support Sun Art’s 481 hypermarkets and three mid-size supermarkets in China as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the shift by customers online.
Alibaba, which already owned 21% of Sun Art through a unit, will raise its stake to around 72% through the acquisition of a similar stake in A-RT Retail Holdings, who owns 51% of Sun Art.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digitalisation of consumer lifestyles and enterprise operations, this commitment to Sun Art serves to strengthen our New Retail vision and serve more consumers with a fully integrated experience,” Alibaba Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said in a statement.
Alibaba added that Peter Huang would be appointed chairman of Sun Art on top of his current role as chief executive officer.
Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Stephen Coates