Carrefour cuts rivals from S.E Asian store auction: report

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French retail giant Carrefour has taken rivals Tesco and Japan's Aeon out of the bidding for its Southeast Asian stores, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, hopes to raise one billion dollars from the sale of its assets in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, the Journal said citing "people familiar with the matter".

Several companies have gone through to the next round of bidding, set for November, including France's Casino and Thai-owned firms Big C Supercenter PC, Central Group, Berli Jucker and PTT, according to the report.

Carrefour chief executive Lars Olofsson in May said he would consider offers for the company's assets in markets where it was not first or second, the Journal said, raising the prospect of an auction of its stores in the growing region.

It cut several companies from the bidding process because they had put in low prices, the Journal reported.

Japan's Aeon group acquired Carrefour's Japanese operations in 2005, five years after Carrefour entered Japan.

Tesco, the world's third-biggest retailer, had previously declined to comment on the Asian auction but the British group has been steadily expanding across Southeast Asia.

Carrefour said it made a net profit of 82 million euros (104 million dollars) in the first half of this year, after a loss in the same period of 2009.

At the results announcement, Olofsson refused to comment on the group's plans in Asia amid speculation that he wants to raise money to fund an ambitious revamp of hypermarkets in Europe.

The company has focused on its European stores but is investing heavily in growing markets including China -- where it is to open or acquire 143 stores this year.

© 2010 AFP

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