Berli Jucker buys Metro Vietnam

Berli Jucker Plc (BJC), the SET-listed retail and trading company, has sealed a deal to buy out German retailer Metro AG's cash-and-carry unit in Vietnam for 655 million euros (28.3 billion baht).

The move is aimed at strengthening BJC's business and operations across Asean.

BJC is a Thai trading, logistics and retail company controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

The Thai company expressed an interest in Metro's operations in Vietnam last year, but Metro declined the possibility of exiting the country.

Previously, BJC made a foray into the Vietnamese market through a partnership with FamilyMart Vietnam, renaming it B's Mart after it acquired a 100% stake from the former Japanese major shareholders.

The acquisition price, valued at 655 million euros on a cash-free and debt-free basis, includes 47 million euros in rent for the property that has been prepaid for the following 20 to 37 years.

Metro Cash & Carry Vietnam Ltd, an asset owned by a subsidiary of the German cash-and-carry chain Metro, entered the Vietnamese market in 2002.

It now operates 19 supermarkets nationwide, with revenue reaching US$692 million last year.

The BJC board yesterday unanimously approved the company's proposal to buy a 100% stake in Metro Vietnam from Metro Cash & Carry International Holding BV.

The company told the SET it would fund the purchase of Metro's Vietnamese operation via new debt facilities.

Details are scheduled to be put forward for board approval at a meeting on Aug 19.

After that, the board will set an extraordinary shareholders' meeting to approve the acquisition in October.

"The purchase of Metro's cash-and-carry business will complement our retail business expansion in Vietnam," said a BJC executive.

"So we'll have a wider customer base, from convenience stores to cash-and-carry stores."

BJC started its B's Mart convenience store operation in Vietnam early this year, and there are currently 95 stores.

The acquisition of Metro is expected to drive BJC's annual sales by 50% to 63 billion baht by year-end.

Metro, Europe's fourth-biggest retailer, opened its first cash-and-carry store in Vietnam in 2002 and now operates 19 stores in 14 cities nationwide.

It employs some 4,000 staff and generated sales of $692 million in its fiscal 2013.

Metro Vietnam has a 22% share in the country's modern grocery market and a total net sales area of almost 110,000 square metres.

It is the biggest foreign-owned player in Vietnam's modern retail sector.

BJC shares closed yesterday on the SET at 55.50 baht, down 1.25 baht, in trade worth 122 million baht. 

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