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(LEAD) E-land's hypermarket sale boils down to three-way race

All News 17:13 February 29, 2016

(ATTN: REVISES lead, paras 4-5 with Shinsegae, Lotte's stance on the bidding)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- The sale of Kim's Club, a hypermarket chain of South Korean fashion and retail conglomerate E-land Group, has drawn proposals from three bidders, with a preferred bidder to be selected next month, industry sources said Monday.

Kim's Club, the nation's fourth-largest supermarket chain with 37 outlets, was put up for sale in November as E-land decided to reduce debt and focus on its fashion and restaurant franchise business.

While the bid initially failed to attract interest from big investors, E-land has recently added the New Core department store located in the posh Gangnam region to the list to sweeten the deal.

Although speculation rose that the nation's two big retailers -- Shinsegae and Lotte Shopping -- were interested in the deal, along with U.S.-based private equity firm KKR & Co. LP, both of the Korean companies on Monday said they did not take part in the preliminary bidding.

E-land said it plans to review their proposals starting Wednesday and pick a preferred bidder next month, without revealing the shortlist, citing confidentiality obligations.

The deal is estimated to fetch up to 2 trillion won (US$1.61 billion), considering the annual sales of Kim's Club and the New Core department store.

E-Land has launched several SPA (specialty retailer of private label apparel) brands to compete with global fashion giants such as Zara and Uniqlo. It has also expanded its business in the food franchise and leisure sectors, making an aggressive foray into China.

In 2008, E-Land sold French retailer Carrefour's Korean unit amid a sluggish performance in the domestic market.


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