Bloomberg News

Baring-Backed Courts Said to Seek Buyer, May Fetch S$500 Million

October 05, 2011

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Asia Retail Group is seeking to sell Courts Asia Ltd., a furniture and electronics retailer with operations in Singapore and Malaysia, for about S$500 million ($382 million), two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Asia Retail Group, backed by Baring Private Equity Asia, has hired HSBC Holdings Plc and BNP Paribas SA for the sale, which may take place within a few weeks, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.

The sale, which will include the company’s consumer financing unit, is expected to attract interest from regional and international retailers, as well as private equity groups, the person said.

Asia Retail Group acquired Courts, which was listed separately in Singapore and Malaysia, starting in 2007. It offered 288 million ringgit ($90.3 million) for Courts Mammoth Bhd. on June 7 of that year. The group first bought 54.2 percent of Courts Singapore Ltd. for S$56.2 million, acquiring the whole company by 2009.

In 2010, the company planned an initial public offering in Singapore. The company generated sales of S$507 million and profit of S$3.6 million in the year ending March 2009, according to unaudited financial statements in the offering prospectus. Courts Asia withdrew the offer in June of last year.

Courts has 10 stores in Singapore selling furniture, electronics and technology products, and employs 600 people, according to its website. In Malaysia, it has 52 stores and employs 1,100 people. The Singapore-based company is led by Chief Executive Officer Terry O’Connor.

Asia Retail Group is part-owned by Baring Private Equity Asia, a Hong Kong based private equity firm with $5 billion under management, according to its website. Richard Barton, an external spokesman for Baring, declined to comment.

--Editors: Mohammed Hadi, Philip Lagerkranser

To contact the reporters on this story: Joyce Koh in Singapore at jkoh38@bloomberg.net; Cathy Chan in Hong Kong at kchan14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net


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