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A consortium led by Alibaba and Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA) has entered an agreement to acquire a 5.5% stake in The CrownX, a retail business owned by Vietnamese conglomerate Masan Group.

The deal is valued at a total cash consideration of $400m.

The agreement is in line with Masan Group’s strategy to transform The CrownX into a one-stop shop that will provide everyday needs, via offline and online.

The CrownX currently consolidates Masan Group’s interests in Masan Consumer Holdings (MCH) and VinCommerce.

Masan Group CEO Danny Le said: “Our immediate priority is to modernise Vietnam’s grocery market and develop an unparalleled consumer proposition from assortment to shopping experience.

“I strongly believe that this partnership will reduce our learning curve and enable us to reach our endgame more efficiently and effectively.”

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By GlobalData

The deal will strengthen Alibaba’s footprints in Southeast Asia, the company having invested $4bn in e-commerce firm Lazada in 2018.

The CrownX will partner with Lazada to expand its digital business in Vietnam.

VinCommerce will supply groceries to Lazada’s e-commerce platform in the country and turn its stores into pick-up points for online orders.

Masan will continue to hold an 80.2% stake in The CrownX.

Alibaba Group Southeast Asia investment head Kenny Ho said: “The combination of Alibaba’s online retail expertise, Lazada’s e-commerce platform in Vietnam and Masan’s leading offline network will be a strong catalyst to modernise Vietnam’s retail landscape.”

As well as this partnership, Masan has held talks with other investors for further investments of $300m to $400m in The CrownX.

The deal is expected to close later this year.

Last month, Alibaba faced a record $2.75bn fine from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) for anti-competitive behaviour.

The fine, equivalent to around 4% of Alibaba’s domestic sales recorded in 2019, followed a four-month investigation into whether the company had abused its dominant market position.