ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Four international retailers vie for Indonesian retailer
Matahari, the country's largest retailer by market value, released a statement on Friday confirming it had received offers and that it had appointed Merrill Lynch to facilitate discussions with the interested parties.
"Merrill Lynch informed us that there were four strategic buyers, with one being South Korea's Lotte," Danny Kojongian, Matahari's spokesman said. "However, we can't disclose the other bidders due to confidentiality."
Reuters reported in November that Wal-Mart Stores and Casino Guichard-Perrachon were among those who had advanced to the final round of bidding for Matahari.
The sale has also reportedly drawn interest from the Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private equity fund, and South Korean retailer Shinsegae.
Matahari said it would pay out Rp 1 trillion in dividends to its shareholders next year because it was flush with cash from the sale of its department store unit earlier this year.
Matahari's food business, Hypermart, also managed to record a solid performance in the first nine months this year. Through to September, Hypermart reported sales of Rp 5.6 trillion, an increase of 17 percent compared with same period last year.
The Matahari sale was, however, far from certain, Danny said, with the company still reviewing its options.
Control of Matahari would give the new owner a powerful position to rival Carrefour in Indonesia.
According to Matahari, it has 51 hypermarkets, 25 supermarkets, 53 drug stores, 90 family entertainment centers and 18 bookstores, as well as a strategic alliance operating 92 department stores in more than 50 cities across the country.
It has plans to open at least 13 hypermarkets next year and 80 outlets over the next five years.
Lotte Group, which is the frontrunner to acquire Matahari, has 21 outlets in Indonesia, Tong Yang Securities said in a report released on Nov. 4.
Acquiring a controlling stake, or just Matahari's stores, would allow the South Korean giant to overtake Carrefour as the largest hypermarket operator in the country, the brokerage said.
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