HANGZHOU, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Alibaba has become the second largest shareholder of a major Chinese supermarket chain through share purchasing as part of the company's plan to combine online and offline retail.
Alibaba bought 201 million shares from Yiguo.com to obtain an 18 percent of stake in Lianhua Supermarket late Friday, according to the supermarket majority shareholder Shanghai-based Bailian Group. Yiguo.com retains a 1.17 percent stake.8 Lianhua operates around 3,600 hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience shops in about 19 provincial-level regions.
Alibaba announced a strategic partnership with Balian in February to transform China's vibrant retail sector.
Alibaba's Jack Ma said the partnership would integrate online and offline business to combine tradition and innovation.
Alibaba has taken dozens of ventures in offline retail, which include its share-swap deal with Suning Commerce Group and a privatization deal to merge with brick-and-mortar retail chain Intime.