HONG KONG, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Japan's Aeon Co Ltd and a unit of Thailand's Central Group are eyeing a bid for PT Matahari Department Store, a CVC-owned retail group in Indonesia for which the private equity firm is seeking as much as $3.5 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Reuters reported last October that CVC had hired banks to help sell the 80 percent stake it bought in PT Matahari in 2010 for $790 million. CVC had then teamed up with local Indonesian investment vehicle Matahari Putra Prima TBK (MPP) to buy a combined 98 percent stake in Matahari, in what is still the nation's biggest ever private equity buyout.
Annual economic growth above 6 percent since 2010 has allowed Indonesia's middle class to spend more on retail purchases. Supermarkets, hypermarkets and shopping malls are now spread across the country, with mini-markets placed in nearly every Jakarta neighbourhood.
CVC and its advisers formulated plans to either pursue a public sale of shares in the company or a sale of the entire business to corporate buyers - a strategy known in banking circles as a dual-track process.
The interest of Aeon and Central Group comes ahead of a tentative March deadline, after which CVC will pursue a sale of its shares in the open market if no takeover offers emerge.
Aeon denied that the company was pursuing PT Matahari. Central Group also denied that it was pursuing the company.
But sources with direct knowledge of the matter said that Aeon and the Thai company have hired investment banks to advise on a possible offer.
As in any auction, Aeon and Central Group may not decide to place a formal bid.
The public market option that CVC is considering is a share placement to institutional investors that could raise up to $1.5 billion, the sources said.
CVC declined comment. Sources declined to be identified as the sale process was confidential. (Additional reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Saranya Suksomkij in BANGKOK, James Topham in TOKYO, Janeman Latul in JAKARTA and Joyce Lee in SEOUL; Reporting by Stephen Aldred and Denny Thomas; Editing by Michael Flaherty and Alex Richardson)