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Chinese internet giants mulling bids for AS Watson stake

Two Chinese internet giants are reportedly evaluating separate bids for a stake in global retailer AS Watson.

As earlier reported by Inside Retail Hong Kong, Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek is working with an advisor on options for selling part of its stake in the Hong Kong-headquartered company. The latest reports suggest Temasek is looking to sell a 10 per cent holding for around US$3 billion, which would represent a healthy financial gain on its 2014 investment, when it paid $5.6 billion for 25 per cent stake.

According to Bloomberg, which quoted sources familiar to the matter, Tencent Holdings is considering a bid in partnership with some investment funds.

Tencent’s rival Alibaba Group has already expressed an interest, although again, this has not been formally confirmed by the company. Temasek is declining any public comment on the According to Bloomberg, prospective buyers have been invited to make presentations this month.

However the news organisation’s sources have cautioned that Temasek may ultimately opt to retain its stakeholding and there are suggestions that “differences in valuation expectations could make reaching a deal difficult”.

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