Navis Capital Partners Bids For Carrefour’s Singapore and Malaysia Assets

(Reuters) -A consortium led by a Malaysia-based private equity firm has joined a slate of bidders including French retailer Casino (CASP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Britain’s Tesco (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), in bidding for some of Carrefour’s (CARR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Southeast Asian assets, sources said.

Malaysia’s Navis Capital Partners has bid for Carrefour assets in Singapore and Malaysia, sources familiar with the deal told Reuters. Navis declined to comment on the deal.

Carrefour, Europe’s top retailer, is exiting Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in a deal that could raise about $1 billion to focus on markets where it has a leading position, sources with knowledge of the matter have previously said.

The first round bidding for Carrefour assets has drawn more than 10 bidders, including European and Asian retailers, private equity firms and local players, sources familiar with the auction said.

The asset auction has also attracted regional players like Dairy Farm (DAIR.SI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) which owns Giant and Cold Storage chains in Southeast Asia, which have submitted bids, the sources said.

Japan’s No.2 retail group Aeon (8267.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has also thrown its hat into the ring, sources said on Wednesday, and appointed Nomura (8604.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to advise it on its bid. [ID:nTKG006851]

Navis, which is run by former executives from the Boston Consulting Group, has not bid for the assets in Thailand, where Carrefour has 40 stores, one of the sources with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters. Carrefour has 19 stores in Malaysia and two in Singapore.

The firm was founded in 1998 and manages approximately $3 billion in capital commitments with investments in South and Southeast Asia, according to its website.

The sources did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the auction process.

The large number of bidders means there will be a second round of bidding after a few are shortlisted, the sources said.

Thailand, where Tesco is a leading player in the hypermarket or superstore segment and Carrefour is No.4, is likely the most sought-after asset, followed by Malaysia, a source with direct knowledge of the deal said earlier.

The sources did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the auction process.

Carrefour had split the sale into two, with the Singapore and Malaysia business being offered in one deal and Thailand being sold separately, sources said.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and UBS AG (UBSN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) are advising Carrefour on the deal. Casino is being advised by Deutsche (DBKGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and RBS (RBS.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), while Dairy Farm is seeking advice from Rothschild, sources said.

Carrefour has 626 stores in Asia, with more than two-thirds in China alone. Indonesia has 76, Taiwan 65, Malaysia 19, Singapore two and Thailand 40, including 39 hypermarkets.

In recent years, Carrefour has pulled out of Japan and South Korea and the latest exit comes as Carrefour battles sluggish sales in Europe. [ID:nLDE67P0P5]

By Saeed Azhar and Wendy Mock

(Wendy Mock works for IFR Asia; Editing by Valerie Lee)