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Tencent to Consider Bid for $3 Billion A.S. Watson Stake

Vinicy Chan, Manuel Baigorri and Dinesh Nair
Tencent to Consider Bid for $3 Billion A.S. Watson Stake

(Bloomberg) -- Mubadala Investment Co., the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund, and Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. are weighing bids for part of Temasek Holdings Pte’s stake in global retailer A.S. Watson Group, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Singapore state investment company is considering selling around a 10 percent stake in A.S. 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 A.S. Watson, which is a unit of Hong Kong tycoon Victor Li’s CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., the people said.

The holding has also drawn interest from Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., 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 A.S. Watson after receiving some preliminary interest, Bloomberg News reported in January. It bought the stake in A.S. 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.

--With assistance from Lulu Yilun Chen, Joyce Koh and Elffie Chew.

To contact the reporters on this story: Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at vchan91@bloomberg.net;Manuel Baigorri in Hong Kong at mbaigorri@bloomberg.net;Dinesh Nair in London at dnair5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fion Li at fli59@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Amy Thomson

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