(Yicai Global) Feb. 17 -- Rumors have been circulating about Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s [NYSE:BABA] interest in acquiring RT-Mart, a supermarket group that has not closed a store for nearly 20 years and has become a market leader in the weak retail market.
"RT-Mart owned by Sun Art Retail Group Ltd. [HKG:6808] will 'get married,' and she has three suitors," said Samuel Yin, president of Ruentex Group. Yin confirmed that interested buyers include internet giants Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd. [HKG:0700] and leading home appliance retailer Suning Commerce Group [SHE:002024].
RT-Mart was established by Ruentex Group. In 2011, Ruentex Group and Auchan Holding jointly invested to set up Sun Art Retail Group Ltd. [HKG:6808], which listed in Hong Kong that July. Sun Art Retail operates RT Mart supermarkets, Feiniu.com and Auchan-branded stores. It is one of the few traditional domestic retailers that has largely maintained positive growth in the past few years.
Any acquisition will need to deal with issues caused by cross-shareholdings between Sun Art Retail's Auchan and RT Mart units. Alibaba has kept a low profile about the recent acquisition rumor and declined to comment.
Sun Art Retail opened 2.7 percent higher on the news this morning and rose by more than 8 percent in intraday trading. Its share price climbed as high as HKD8.88 (USD1.14), its highest level since 2014, when the company's turnover was HKD340 million.