Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Kuala Lumpur. French retail giant Carrefour plans to sell its business in Malaysia, a minister said, amid speculation the company will also offload its stores in Singapore and Thailand.

“We heard Carrefour is considering divesting. It is for the purpose of rationalizing their overseas business,” Deputy Trade Minister Mukhriz Mahathir said , adding that other hypermarkets were “keen to take over” Carrefour’s 23 stores in Malaysia. “There are many suitors,” he said.
Low Ngai Yuen, Carrefour’s marketing and communications director, declined to respond to the comments, but Yeah Kim Leng, group chief economist with financial research company RAM Holdings, said Carrefour’s impending departure from Southeast Asia had been well flagged.

“The news has been around for some time. It is an open secret that Carrefour wants to pull out from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. They’ve put feelers out to the industry on their plan,” he said.

Carrefour wanted to consolidate its business and concentrate on the booming Indian market, he said. “It is not surprising for them to move to India. The middle-class segment is a large expanding group,” he said.

Carrefour subsidiary Carrefour Indonesia in July said it remained committed to Indonesia. That followed reports in May that Trans Corp., a unit of Para Group, was seeking to acquire 100 percent of Carrefour Indonesia. Trans Corp., which bought a 40 percent stake in Carrefour Indonesia this year, later denied the reports.

The New Straits Times newspaper last month reported that Carrefour had put a $1 billion collective tag on its business in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Yeah said the “competitive” hypermarket industry in Malaysia remained profitable. “Given the growth potential in the region, we will likely see other players buying Carrefour. Players that exit will be able to find suitors.”

Players in the Malaysian market who are possible buyers include Britain’s Tesco, Japan’s Jusco, and Giant, which is owned by the Dairy Farm group.

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