Japan’s Aeon Co. is nearing an agreement to acquire French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA’s Big C grocery chain in Vietnam, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Aeon has emerged as the leading bidder after submitting an offer that values the business at more than $800 million, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. While an agreement could be announced as soon as this week, the transaction hasn’t been finalized, and the deal could still fall apart, they said.
Other suitors who had submitted bids for the unit include South Korea’s Lotte Group, as well as Thailand’s Central Group and billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s TCC Holding Co., people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. Casino is selling assets in Asia and Latin America to cut debt, while focusing on price and convenience stores in its largest market, France, as it competes for growth amid weak consumer spending.
A spokeswoman for Casino didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A spokesman for Aeon declined to comment on the deliberations.
A deal would follow Casino’s agreement last month to sell control of Thai supermarket chain Big C Supercenter Pcl to TCC for 3.1 billion euros ($3.4 billion).
Rising retail sales and booming foreign investment are helping the Vietnamese economy expand. Achieving the government’s growth forecast of about 6.7 percent this year would make the Southeast Asian nation one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
Aeon, which operates supermarkets and discount stores in Vietnam, had 550 employees in the country as of October 2013, according to its website.