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Lotte Group steps closer to Ministop Korea acquisition

‘Since Lotte has outbid other contenders, there’s a 99.9 percent chance of Lotte becoming the preferred bidder.’

Lotte Group headquarters in Lotte World Tower, Songpa-gu, Seoul (Lotte Property and Development)
Lotte Group headquarters in Lotte World Tower, Songpa-gu, Seoul (Lotte Property and Development)

Korea’s retail giant Lotte Group is highly likely to be picked as a preferred bidder to acquire the nation’s fifth-largest convenience store chain Ministop Korea, according to industry sources Wednesday.

Lotte reportedly offered the highest bidding price -- 300 billion won ($251.5 million) -- possibly leaving out its crosstown rival Shinsegae Group in the heated race.

“Since Lotte has outbid other contenders, there’s a 99.9 percent chance of Lotte becoming the preferred bidder,” said an industry source who wished to stay anonymous.

Along with Lotte, Shinsegae and a consortium led by local food retailer Nepstone Holdings have placed bids to acquire a 100 percent stake in Ministop Korea from Japan’s Aeon Group, the parent company. The deal manager Samil PwC plans to announce a preferred bidder this week.

If Lotte succeeds in taking over Ministop Korea, the retail conglomerate is expected to secure a firm footing in the local convenience store chain market where the number of chain stores itself is a competitive edge.

Currently, the nation’s top two convenience store chain operators BGF Retail’s CU and GS Group’s GS25 operate some 15,700 and 15,400 stores, respectively, dominating more than 60 percent of the market, while Lotte operates 11,173 stores under the Seven Eleven brand.

Shinsegae, which owns about 5,800 Emart 24 stores, had sought to acquire 2,620 Ministop stores but the attempt appears to have failed.

In the meantime, Lotte is likely to narrow the gap with the top two players, with the number of its stores surging to some 13,793.

Ministop Korea has recently been put up for sale after a failed attempt to find a new owner back in 2018. Lotte also participated in the bid at the time.

By Byun Hye-jin (hyejin2@heraldcorp.com)
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