UAE's Mubadala said to mull bid for $3bn Watson stake

Sources say Abu Dhabi fund is weighing bid for stake in global retailer AS Watson Group
UAE's Mubadala said to mull bid for $3bn Watson stake
AS Watson, which is a unit of Hong Kong tycoon Victor Li’s CK Hutchison Holdings.
By Bloomberg
Wed 20 Mar 2019 07:46 PM

Mubadala Development Co, the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund, and Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings are weighing bids for part of Temasek Holdings' stake in global retailer AS Watson Group, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Singapore state investment company is considering selling around a 10 percent stake in AS Watson for about $3 billion, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Tencent may team up with some investment funds for an offer for the stake in AS Watson, which is a unit of Hong Kong tycoon Victor Li’s CK Hutchison Holdings, the people said.

The holding has also drawn interest from Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding, according to the people. Potential buyers are being invited to management presentations this month, one of the people said.

Shares of CK Hutchison rose 2.5 percent at the close Wednesday in Hong Kong, the biggest gain in more than two months, after earlier rising as much as 3.5 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.5 percent.

Temasek is working with an adviser to explore options for its 25 percent holding in AS Watson after receiving some preliminary interest, Bloomberg News reported in January. It bought the stake in AS Watson for HK$44 billion ($5.6 billion) in 2014.

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the suitors will proceed with firm offers, the people said. Differences in valuation expectations could make reaching a deal difficult, and Temasek may still decide to keep the stake, according to the people.

Representatives for Mubadala, Tencent and Alibaba declined to comment. Temasek said in an emailed statement that it doesn’t comment on speculation.

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