Alibaba Secures Two Major Business Wins, Asserting its Dominance in China

Chinese tech giant Alibaba announced that it will take control of leading hypermarket chain Sun Art Retail while its offshoot Ant Group has received the green light for its Hong Kong listing.

Asia's largest corporation will pay HK$28 billion ($3.6 billion) to double its stake in bricks-and-mortar retailer Sun Art from 36.16 percent to 72 percent by acquiring equity from Auchan Retail International.

Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, has fended off competition from rivals such as JD.com as it looks to boost its offline shopping services and gain further ground in China's retail market.

The company already owns Taobao, the world's largest online marketplace.

Alibaba initially formed an alliance with Hong Kong-listed Sun Art in 2017, investing HK$22.4 billion in the supermarket chain to integrate its online grocery ordering platform and offer home-delivery services.

Sun Art, which has 481 hypermarkets and three mid-size supermarkets in China, is currently controlled by a unit of Mulliez family investments—one of the richest families in France.

Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba, said in a statement: "As the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digitization 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 added that Peter Huang would be appointed chairman of Sun Art on top of his current role as chief executive officer.

Shares in Sun Art soared 19 percent on Monday on the back of the news, while Alibaba climbed 1 percent in Hong Kong.

It comes as Alibaba's financial technology offshoot Ant Group has secured approval from the Chinese securities regulator for the Hong Kong leg of its initial public offering.

Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial, is planning a concurrent listing on the Hong Stock Stock Exchange and the Shanghai stock exchange's STAR market. The IPO could potentially be one of the biggest of all time.

The company, which is 33 percent owned by Alibaba and controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, reported a profit of 21.9 billion Chinese yuan ($3.28 billion) on total revenues of 72.5 billion yuan in the first half of the year. That was a more than 1,000 percent annual rise in profits as revenues surged 38 percent, too.

Alibaba
Logo of the Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, internet, and technology conglomerate, Alibaba. The company is doubling its stake in bricks-and-mortar retailer Sun Art from 36.16 percent to 72 percent. LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images