Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is weighing a bid to buy the Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop from Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, according to a Wednesday report.
Li’s Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HKG:0013) conglomerate is accepting initial bids for the franchise, valued at as much as $4 billion, unnamed sources told Reuters. Japan’s Aeon Co. Ltd. (TYO:8267) and state-owned China Resources Enterprise Limited (HKG:0291) are also among the suitors, Reuters said.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman declined to comment. “We do not comment on market entry rumor or speculation,” Megan Murphy told International Business Times in an email.
The move comes months after the big-box store announced plans to open 100 new stories in China over the next three years. In April, Wal-Mart said it would invest $80 million to upgrade existing stores in the country.
“China is one of the Wal-Mart’s most strategic markets,” Greg Foran, the chief executive of Wal-Mart’s China division, said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal in April. “Our aim is to strengthen our business foundation to enable our long-term development in China.”
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Wal-Mart is already the No. 2 retailer in market share, behind the Chinese Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., a joint venture between the Taiwanese Ruentex Industries Limited (TPE:2915) and France’s privately held Groupe Auchan S.A.