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Asian private-equity firm MBK Partners withdrew a planned Homeplus property float due to weak interest.
MBK was planning to spin off 51 of the South Korean retailer’s hypermarket buildings in cities including Busan and Incheon through a US$1.5bn float of a real estate investment trust (REIT).
The proceeds were potentially to be used to pay off most of a hefty five-year buyout loan that is due. The trust also has the right to buy the remaining Homeplus hypermarkets over the next four years.
The move would have given Homeplus a cleaner balance sheet and leave the retailer almost free of big physical assets.
Due to a strong online industry, increased popularity of smaller format stores and as an outlier in a market with few REITs, there is weak interest among investors.
“We decided to withdraw the IPO on the conclusion that it would be difficult to get a fair value on the company,” said a spokesperson from Korea Retail Home Plus Reit. “We will revisit the IPO later on.”
Following the cancellation, a source at MBK commented “Now Homeplus, a giant retailer with sales of 9 trillion won, is in the stages of improving competitiveness, we are not considering divestment at this point in time”.
MBK bought Homeplus, one of South Korea’s largest grocery chain with 142 hypermarket stores, from British retailer Tesco for US$6.1bn in 2015. Homeplus’ performance has been lagging behind its rivals in recent years.
For IGD Asia subscribers, see our South Korea country presentation and South Korea by numbers report for key trends and more details on Homeplus and other key retailers in the country.
Keep up-to-date with the latest retail developments from Asia.