Alibaba has taken a controlling stake in one of China’s leading supermarket chains as it tries to fend off rival JD.com in the fast growing online grocery industry.
Alibaba is spending 28 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.6 billion) to up its stake in Sun Art Retail Group from 36% to 72%, the company said in a statement Monday. The company will then make a general offer to shareholders to buy out the rest of the retail company.
The news sent shares in Sun Art up nearly 20% in Hong Kong. Alibaba’s Hong Kong listed shares rose about 1%.
Alibaba is in a fierce battle with rival JD.com for China’s online food market. During an annual sales blitz in June, JD said online grocery sales doubled over last year’s haul.