ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Carrefour suitors down to four
BJC reportedly offered the highest bid in the first round. He is expected to bid even higher in the second round.
Mr. Charoen's goal is to diversify the conglomerate by acquiring the Thai assets of the French hypermarket chain, estimated to be worth 16-19 billion baht.
Currently, his empire includes beer (Thai Beverage), spirits, hospitality, property (TCC Capital Land), trading (BJC), retailing, and Japanese-style food and beverage (Oishi Group).
BJC distributes food, consumer goods, industrial materials, pharmaceuticals, packaging and technology. Consumer goods brands include Parrot soap, Cellox tissue paper and Dusty potato chips.
The fourth contender for Carrefour's Thai network is the French retailer Casino Group. BJC generated revenue last year of 23.13 billion baht, about seven times lower than PTT, which earned 1.62 trillion baht. Mr. Charoen's personal wealth is about 129 billion baht. The main weak point of BJC is a lack of experience in hypermarket management.
Central Group is serious about returning to the hypermarket sector after pioneering it before the 1997 financial crisis. Central once held 40 percent in CenCar Co, the current operator of Carrefour in Thailand. It sold the shares in CenCar after the crisis to focus on its core department store business.
At that time, Central Retail Corporation also wholly owned Big C Supercenter and sold some shares to Casino. The latter has since raised its ownership to 68 percent while CRC holds 20 percent.
"The CEO management board of Central has agreed to buy Carrefour," said an industry source. Prior to this, Tos Chirathivat, the CEO of CRC, said it had almost 20 billion baht available to expand the businesses via mergers and acquisitions.
The key strength of CRC is its 60-year retail history.
Prasert Bunsumpun, president and CEO of PTT, tried to negotiate to open PTT petrol stations at Big C stores in the past, but got no response.
PTT previously bought Jet fuel stations from US-based Conoco Philips, including the Jiffy mini-marts inside the stations.
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