Hutchison Whampoa plans sale of ParknShop supermarket chain

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, the investment holding company controlled by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, today said that its subsidiary A S Watson & Co is conducting a strategic review of its super market retail business PARKnSHOP.

Watson was responding to a report in the The Wall Street Journal yesterday, which said that Hong Kong-listed Hutchison Whampoa has hired Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to handle the sale.

Watson said that as of date, it has ''not yet set a definite timetable for completion of its review and there can be no assurances that the process will result in any transaction being announced or completed.''

PARKnSHOP, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Watson, is the market-leading food retailer in Hong Kong with significant market position in Macau and South China.

Founded in 1973, PARKnSHOP is the second-largest grocery store chain in Hong Kong with a 33-per cent market share. It has 345 stores in Hong Kong, Macau and southern China and had revenues of HK$21.7 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2012.

Its main competitors are Wellcome with 39.8 per cent market share and CR Vanguard Supermarket with 7.8 per cent.

The paper said that Li Ka-shing, whose net worth is $27 billion, is seeking to sell PARKnSHOP since the industry is growing slowly, and the sale may fetch between $1 billion and $2 billion.

A Fortune 500 company and one of Hong Kong's largest listed companies, Hutchison Whampoa is 49.97 per cent owned by property company Cheung Kong Group.

Its operations across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, includes ports,  property, hotels, retailing, telecommunications, infrastructure, electricity supply and others.