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Thai oil company PTT joins race for Tesco

Thai oil company PTT is said to be preparing to make a bid for the Tesco Asia businesses in Malaysia and Thailand.

The firm’s retail unit, which also owns the rapidly growing Cafe Amazon chain, will join local retailer Central Group and conglomerate Charoen Pokphand in first-round bids. 

At the beginning of this month, Bloomberg sources were tipping the Tesco Asia business could fetch as much as US$7 billion. But this week, Reuters sources are estimating the deal to be worth as much as US$9 billion. If one of the Thai suitors is successful, the deal could potentially be the second-largest acquisition ever by a Thai company.

Tesco currently operates about 2000 outlets in Thailand, and another 74 in Malaysia in a local partnership with Sime Darby Group. 

Tesco announced in December it was reviewing the future of the business after receiving expressions of interest. As Inside Retail Asia reported earlier this month, Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, who owns the Charoen Pokphand Group, and the Chirathivat family-controlled Central Group are among a group of potential investors in discussions with Tesco. 

Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that Thailand’s Office of Trade Competition Commission has issued a rare warning under the country’s anti-monopoly laws, saying it will closely monitor any deal.

Thai oil company PTT is actively pursuing business expansion outside its core fuel-retailing business. The company is rolling out Amazon Cafe outlets across Southeast Asia, with the latest markets including Singapore and Vietnam.

In late 2018, the company said it planned to open 20,000 cafes globally, nearly 10 times its then network of 2300 outlets in Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Japan.

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