Jucker votes for Big C buy

For fresh fruit and vegetable marketing and distribution in Asia
Luisa Cheshire

BY LUISA CHESHIRE

Jucker votes for Big C buy

Thai manufacturing and distribution giant Berli Jucker has voted to buy a majority stake in grocery chain Big C Thailand

Jucker votes for Big C buy

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Thai trading and manufacturing giant Berli Jucker Company (BJC) has voted in favour of a US$6.2bn majority stake acquisition of supermarket group Big C Thailand, reports Inside Retail Asia.

BJC shareholders voted virtually unanimous for the purchase after securing funding from a syndicate of 15 banks, the report said.

French retail group Casino has a 58.6 per cent controlling interest in Big C Thailand, which Berli Jucker will now acquire. Settlement is expected late this month, Inside Retail Asia said.

Meanwhile, negotiations continue over the fate of Big C Vietnam, also controlled by Casino Group, which is selling overseas assets to reduce its debt, according to the report.

In Vietnam, Thai tycoon Charoan Sirivadhanabhakdi, through another business, recently purchased the Metro hypermarket business from Metro AG of Germany, to bolt on to Berli Jucker’s B’Smart convenience store network.

Charoan was therefore a favourite to acquire the Big C Vietnam operations to build even greater critical mass, and lodged a bid prior to the first round deadline with his soon to be Big C Thailand partner, Central Group.

But sources in Asia's business community told Inside Retail Asia that Korea's Lotte supermarket group and Japan's Aeon retail business are now frontrunners in the Big C Vietnam purchase.

Lotte runs the market-leading Lotte Mart hypermarket business in Vietnam and would gain a significant foothold in the country if it could secure Big C as well, Inside Retail said.

Aeon, which is building shopping centres in Vietnam main cities, reportedly submitted an offer that valued the business at more than US$800m according to sources quoted in Vietnam media.

Casino has reportedly declined comment on the Vietnam sale other than to say it was “progressing well” when it reacted to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s decision to cut its credit rating to junk status on Monday (21 March).

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