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Wal-Mart invests in China e-commerce retailer 360buy.com

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US chain Wal-Mart has invested in Chinese e-commerce consumer electronics seller 360buy.com, as the world’s largest retailer steps up its presence in China, a report said Tuesday.

Wal-Mart has teamed up with another five investors to inject 500 million dollars into 360buy, whose rivals include Taobao, the dominant online marketplace owned by Alibaba, the Financial Times said, without citing sources.

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A spokeswoman for 360buy declined to comment when contacted by AFP and no one at Wal-Mart’s Beijing office was immediately available to comment.

The US chain has nearly 200 outlets in China, according to its website.

Wal-Mart last month launched a no-frills store format in China targeting low-income and rural consumers, the Financial Times said.

It opened a “compact hypermarket” in the eastern province of Jiangxi that is expected to be the first of a series of stores using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America.

The retailer’s third-quarter sales in China soared 15.2 percent from a year earlier. Global sales in 14 countries outside the United States rose 9.3 percent in the same period, while US sales rose 1.4 percent.

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Wal-Mart is the latest foreign retailer seeking to tap the fast-growing e-commerce market in China.

Internet sales in the country, the world’s biggest web market with more than 420 million users, soared 60 percent year on year in the first half of 2010 to 2.25 trillion yuan (340 billion dollars), state media said in August.

Underlining the growing appeal of the country’s Internet market, sportswear giant Adidas has opened a flagship online store on Taobao. Clothing retailer Gap has opened an e-store along with its first outlets in the country.

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