TPG-Backed Wumart Nears $600 Million Deal for Rival

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Wumart Stores Inc (8277.HK), a major Chinese retailer backed by TPG Capital, is in the final stages of talks to acquire smaller rival Times Ltd (1832.HK) for about $600 million, a moved aimed at boosting Wumart’s national network, people familiar with the situation said on Monday.

Times was also in talks with another Asian retailer, the sources said, but Wumart appeared set to win the auction for the Hong Kong-listed retailer.

Times shares reversed early losses to hit a high of HK$4.5, or up 9.76 percent on Monday afternoon after Reuters reported that the company owned by Hong Kong tycoon Kenneth Fang and his family was close to a deal with Wumart. Shares later were trading near HK$4.3, up 5.6 percent.

The sources noted that no deal had yet been signed and talks were continuing to pin down financial details.

If the acquisition succeeds, Times would be delisted from the Hong Kong stock exchange, the sources said.

“The Fang family feels supermarket business is a very tiring business but to Wumart as a strategic buyer, it’s a golden opportunity to get it,” said one person familiar with the talks.

The sources declined to be identified because of the private nature of the bidding process. Wumart and Times both declined to comment.

By George Chen
(Additional reporting by Donny Kwok, Fion Li and Alison Leung; Editing by Ken Wills)