Beijing — Internet giant Alibaba said on Monday it would invest HK$22.4bn ($2.87bn) for a major stake in China’s top hypermart operator, Sun Art Retail Group, part of a wider push into offline retail. As part of an alliance with Auchan Retail and Ruentex, Alibaba would buy the stake from Ruentex while Auchan Retail would boost its stake, the three companies said in a joint statement. The alliance would target opportunities in China’s $500bn food retail sector, as Alibaba races to build big-data capabilities in the offline retail market where roughly 85% of sales are made. "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," Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said in the statement. Shares of Hong Kong-listed Sun Art, which were suspended on November 13, resumed trading on Monday and were down 5.3% in morning trade, while the benchmark index was flat. The deal would give...

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