Central Group announced on April 29 that it and its local partner Nguyen Kim Trading Company had jointly acquired Big C Vietnam for 920 million euro (US$1.05 billion) from France’s Casino Group. However, details about their capital contribution structure is unknown. Nguyen Kim is now 49% owned by Central Group.
“Ultimately our success grew out of our determination and commitment to contribute to the prosperity of Vietnam and to improve the quality of life of the people. We see in Big C a partner that shares this commitment and vision to improving and enriching the lives of people here,” said Nguyen Van Kim, chairman of Nguyen Kim Trading Company, in a Central Group statement.
With the acquisition of Big C Vietnam, Central Group is committed to continuing using products of local suppliers, maintaining strong relationships with Big C customers, employees and local authorities, and sourcing local goods for Big C stores, according to the Thai firm.
Casino’s disposal of its unit in Vietnam in a bid to reduce its debt by selling assets in Asia and Latin America will bring its total divestments to 4.2 billion euros.
Big C Vietnam has 33 supermarkets, ten convenience stores and e-commerce site Cdiscount.vn. The firm earlier expected to fetch some US$800 million from the sale.
Some 20 companies joined the bid for Big C Vietnam, including Aeon of Japan, Lotte of the Republic of Korea, BJC of Thailand, Saigon Co.op and Masan of Vietnam and Central Group.
Saigon Co.op, the owner of the extensive Co.opmart supermarket chain in Vietnam, was a serious contender but the prevailing regulations on foreign investment prevented it from acquiring Big C Vietnam.
Saigon Co.op currently has no license to invest overseas while the bid for Big C Vietnam requires the local cooperative to conduct the transaction abroad.
Big C Vietnam’s 2015 revenue was 586 million euros. Big C Vietnam is ranked second after the Co.opmart chain in terms of store number, so the acquisition of Big C Vietnam will help Central Group save at least seven years of development on the local retail market.