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Lotte pulls out of Big C Vietnam race

South Korean retail heavyweight Lotte has reportedly withdrawn from the bidding battle for Big C Vietnam.

Reuters, quoting unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said the company was not keen to bid aggressively for the supermarket network. Lotte already has its own network of hypermarkets in Vietnam and will no doubt have costed a bid for Big C based on the value of the market share and assets it would acquire versus the cost of continuing its own organic store network growth.

France’s Groupe Casino is auctioning off the Vietnam business having earlier sold its stake in Big C Thailand to Thai import and export firm Berli Jucker for about US$6.2 billion.

Lotte Group, which controls Lotte Shopping, declined to comment on the report.

Big C opened its first Vietnam store in 1998 and has 30 stores in cities across the country.

At the time it put the business on the market, Groupe Casino said it hoped to be paid about US$813 million, which would be spent paying down debt.

However based on current bids for the business, sources are now estimating the sale could net closer to $1 billion.

Thailand’s Central Group, which is has been approached by Berli Jucker to buy its minority stake in Big C Thailand and has a growing portfolio of retail businesses in Vietnam, is thought to remain in the hunt, along with Berli Jucker which through an affiliated company bought Metro Vietnam from Germany’s Metro AG last year and is building a convenience store network in the country under the banner B’Smart.

Reuters reports at least 10 offers were initially received for the business, with the final round of tender due this week.

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