Lotte named top bidder for Hi-Mart

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Lotte named top bidder for Hi-Mart

Lotte Shopping, the flagship affiliate of retail-oriented conglomerate Lotte Group, said yesterday it has been picked as the preferred bidder for the purchase of electronics appliance retailer Hi-Mart.

“Lotte was tapped because private equity firm MBK Partners opted not to bid,” a company representative said. He added that more details will be announced in the near future, indicating that the deal is close to being sealed.
Market insiders said Lotte Shopping has already reached a tentative deal to buy Hi-Mart shares for 80,000 won ($70) each.

They said that with Lotte successfully launching its “digital parks” within their larger stores to sell IT products, taking over Hi-Mart could create a positive synergy effect.

Lotte Shopping has 527 stores nationwide, including 96 large discount outlets. Hi-Mart has 314 stores.
Lotte said that since the first digital park was launched in November 2009, a total of 12 have been set up, with sales of electronics jumping 65 percent over that period. It said that as the stores focus on IT products, there would be no serious overlap in the type of products handled by Hi-Mart, which specializes in everyday household appliances.

Meanwhile, an executive for Lotte said it is too early to say if a formal agreement will be reached. But he made clear that both sides wanted a successful conclusion to the talks.

If Lotte buys Hi-Mart, it could play an even greater role in the domestic retail market and allow it to compete favorably with rivals such as the Shinsegae Group that controls E-Mart, the country’s largest discount store chain, and Shinsegae Department Stores.

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