As the world's largest retailer steps up its presence in China, Wal-Mart has invested in Chinese e-commerce consumer electronics seller 360buy.com, a report said on Dec. 28.

Wal-Mart has teamed up with another five investors to inject $500 million into 360buy, whose rivals include Taobao, the dominant online marketplace owned by Alibaba, the Financial Times said.

Last month the company 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 company has nearly 200 outlets in China.

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

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% year on year in the first half of 2010 to 2.25 trillion yuan (US$340 billion), state media said in August.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010