Chinese shoe company in talks to buy British toy retailer Hamleys
A Chinese shoe company announced on Thursday it is in talks to buy Britain's iconic toy retailer Hamleys, as President Xi Jinping continues his state visit to Britain focused on bolstering business and trade ties between the two countries.
Chinese firm C.banner International Holdings, which primarily manufactures and sells premium ladies' footwear said "it has reached an advanced stage" in talks with Ludendo Enterprises, which operates the Hamleys brand.
"The board of directors of the company is pleased to announce that the company is in discussion with Ludendo Entreprises regarding a proposed acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Ludendo Enterprises UK Limited," the company said in the statement.
"The proposed acquisition of the target company which owns and operates leading toy retailer brand 'Hamleys', if materialised, would mark an important first step towards the implementation of the company's global branding strategy."
The mainland Chinese enterprise, which has a market capitalisation of around $819 million, said it is pursuing a new global branding initiative and business diversification plan.
"The discussion between the company and the seller in relation to the proposed acquisition has reached an advanced stage" it said, adding that "no definitive agreement has been entered into", in a deal which media reports have said could be worth about £100 million ($153.74 million).
The well-loved British toy retailer first opened in 1760 and has been expanding internationally, opening stores in locations ranging from Moscow to Dubai. It was purchased by France's Groupe Ludendo in 2012.
A clutch of business contracts said by British Prime Minister David Cameron to be worth almost £40 billion ($61.6 billion, 54.4 billion euros) have been announced during Xi's visit, as well as the launch of the first yuan-denominated bond in London as China seeks to internationalise its currency.
Xi said that China and Britain would collaborate in financial services, rail and energy infrastructure, as well as emerging sectors such as bioenergy, smart cities, information technology and e-commerce.
© 2015 AFP