TAIPEI (CNA) – Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (阿里巴巴), a leading Chinese e-commerce operator, has agreed to acquire a stake in a hypermarket chain partly owned by the Ruentex Group (潤泰集團), a Taiwan-based conglomerate, the companies said Monday.
Under the agreement, Alibaba will pay about US$2.88 billion for a 36.16 percent stake in Sun Art Retail Group (高鑫), which operates more than 440 RT-Mart and Auchan outlets all over China, the new partners said in a joint statement.
This will leave Ruentex with a 4.67 percent share, while the share of the other stakeholder, French company Auchan Retail S.A., will remain at 36.18 percent, according to the statement.
Alibaba said the deal is expected to integrate the online and offline expertise of the three Sun Art Retail partners to explore new opportunities in China’s food retail sector.
“Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang (張勇) said in the statement. “By fully integrating online and physical channels together with our partners, we look forward to delivering an original and delightful shopping experience to Chinese consumers.” Ruentex, meanwhile, said the deal will help the three partners to create a strategic alliance in the retail market in China.
“In recent years, consumer demands have changed tremendously with the rapid growth of the mobile internet, and Sun Art is also endeavoring to move from offline to online,” Ruentex Vice Chairman Peter Huang (黃明端) said in the statement. “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.”
Through the sale of the Sun Art Retail stake, Ruentex’s two subsidiaries – Ruentex Industries Ltd. (潤泰全球) and property developer Ruentex Development Co. (潤泰創新) – are expected to book NT$16.8 billion (US$558 million) and NT$11.2 billion in profit, respectively.
On Monday, shares of Ruentex Industries climbed 1.89 percent to close at NT$53.80 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, while Ruentex Development was 4.09 percent higher to end at NT$33.05 and the weighted index was down 0.35 percent at 10,664.55 points.
Ruentex Group, chaired by billionaire Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), owns a wide range of businesses in the retail, property development, textile, insurance and biomedical industries.
By Esme Jiang and Frances Huang