Wal-Mart Buys Out China E-Retailer Yihaodian as Founders Leave

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. bought the remaining 49 percent stake it doesn’t already own in Yihaodian, a week after the founders of the Chinese e-commerce company left to start a new venture.

The world’s largest retailer bought the stake from founders Yu Gang and Liu Junling, as well as from Ping An Insurance Group, according to the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company which didn’t disclose the size of the shareholding held by each party.

The company also named Wang Lu, the president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Global eCommerce in Asia, to lead Yihaodian. Yu and Liu, former Dell Inc. employees, will serve as chairman meritus and strategic executive adviser, respectively, to ensure a smooth transition, it said.

Wal-Mart has struggled to adapt to the local culture and buying patterns in China. Competition from incumbent retailers and a series of food scandals have hobbled the company’s attempts to boost market share in the country. It closed some of its unprofitable stores last year while committing to open 115 others and invest 370 million yuan ($60 million) in renovating existing locations this year.

Wal-Mart previously acquired a 51 percent stake in the online retailer in 2012 when it sought to tap China’s e-commerce boom. Yihaodian, founded in 2008, sells online products ranging from imported infant formula and fresh vegetables to iPhones.

Yihaodian is ranked fifth in China’s Internet retail market with a 2 percent share, trailing industry leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has 44 percent, and second-place JD.com Inc. with 14 percent, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

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