What happened: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is among the eight second-round bidders for a majority stake in China operations of German wholesaler Metro, which is valued at $1.5 billion to $2 billion, Reuters reported. Other bidders include the consortia of private equity firm Boyu Capital with property developer China Vanke Co Ltd, Hopu Investments with fresh food delivery firm Meicai, and Hillhouse Capital Group with supermarket chain operator Yonghui Superstores Co Ltd, Reuters sources added. Alibaba declined to comment on the matter when contacted by TechNode.
Why it’s important: Interest in Metro comes alongside the rise of new retail in China, referring to a new shopping experience that combines the best of online and offline commerce by integrating the e-commerce market and big-data capabilities to transform the traditional wholesale and retail sectors. Technology majors such as Alibaba, JD, and Meituan are aggressively expanding offline, either by establishing in-house brick-and-mortar stores or by partnerships with existing retail chains. Alibaba has its own supermarket chain Hema and holds stakes in Taiwan’s RT-Mart International Ltd and retail group Auchan. Teaming up with a wholesaler like Metro could also bring synergy to Alibaba’s existing new retail operations.