Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Slaughter and May have all won roles in Alibaba’s $2.9bn acquisition of a stake in Chinese retail group Sun Art.

Slaughter and May, one of Alibaba’s long-standing advisers, has acted for the Chinese e-commerce giant in its acquisition of approximately 36.2 per cent of stake in Hong Kong-listed Sun Art Retail Group.

Hong Kong based corporate partner Benita Yu led the team  in the $2.9bn transaction alongside partners Clara Choi and Charlton Tse and associates Eric Fung, Vincent Chan and Jiayi Li.

Fangda Partners, Alibaba’s main PRC legal adviser, provided the group with PRC legal advice in the acquisition.

Herbert Smith Freehills represented Sun Art, one of the main hypermarket operators in China with 14.6 per cent market share by retail sales value. The firm is the group’s main external adviser since 2012, according to Sun Art’s annual reports.

Sun Art is a joint venture between French group Auchan Retail and Taiwan based Ruentex Group. Alibaba acquired the shares from Ruentex Group, which was advised by Clifford Chance.

Auchan, which also increased its share in Sun Art through the transaction, was represented by Skadden. The Skadden team, fielding Hong Kong partners Jonathan Stone and Christopher Betts and of counsel Antony Dapiran, negociated all the documents involving Sun Art in relation to Auchan and Alibaba’s share acquisition.

Through the acquisition, Alibaba has formed a new strategic alliance with Auchan and Ruentex. It is also the latest deal under Alibaba’s “new retail” strategy to leverage its internet-based approach and new technology, while working closely with retail partners to grow both online and offline retail businesses in China.

Earlier this year, it bought domestic department store Intime Retail for $2.6bn in a take private deal.

Background to the deal

When Sun Art launched its IPO in Hong Kong in 2011, it was advised by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, while underwriters were represented by HSF.

In 2012, HSF was appointed as Sun Art’s main corporate counsel. Auchan instructed White & Case on the restructuring of Sun Art prior to the retail group’s listing in Hong Kong.

In the $2.6bn take private deal of the then Hong Kong-listed Intime Retail Group, announced in January 2017, Alibaba was once again advised by Slaughter and May’s Benita Yu and Chinese firm Fangda. Both firms acted for Alibaba in 2014, when it invested $692m in Intime Retail.

Davis Polk & Wardwell Hong Kong partner Paul Chow acted for Intime, following his representation to the client in its 2014 IPO.