(Yicai Global) Jan. 24 -- Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and a partner have signed a letter of intent to invest in French supermarket chain Carrefour SA's China unit.
The deal with Shenzhen-based Tencent and local retailer Yonghui Superstores Co. is a partnership, Carrefour said, stressing that it is not selling its China division. The companies will work together in smart retail and mobile payments, and the French firm will remain the largest shareholder in the local unit.
Another leading online Chinese tech firm, e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has also been making moves in offline sectors. It announced plans in November to invest HKD22.4 billion (USD2.9 billion) in hypermart operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd.
Yonghui bought a 12-percent stake in supermarket brand Chengdu Hongqi Chain Co. in December for CNY947 million (USD146 million). It followed that up on Jan. 2 by announcing it would top up its holding to 21 percent.
Under the investment deal, which includes a strategic partnership, Carrefour will increase its online exposure to bring in more customers and leverage Tencent's technology expertise to develop a new smart retail project. The tech firm will further its retail services on social platforms and promote WeChat pay, cloud computing and other services at the supermarket.
Shanghai Stock Exchange sent an inquiry to Yonghui yesterday, requiring the firm to disclose how many shares it will buy in Carrefour China, how much it will spend on the holding, and whether or not it will assume control of any underlying assets.