Aug 28, 2015

    Temasek joins MBK 'in bid for Tesco's S. Korea arm'

    SINGAPORE state investor Temasek Holdings has partnered Asia-focused private equity firm MBK Partners to bid for the South Korea arm of British supermarket operator Tesco, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

    MBK is competing against Carlyle Group and a consortium comprising Affinity Equity Partners and KKR & Co for Tesco's South Korea unit, Homeplus, valued at about US$6 billion (S$8.4 billion), Reuters reported earlier in the week.

    Temasek's latest interest in a consumer-sector deal comes more than a year after it bought almost a quarter of health and beauty retailer A.S. Watson, backed by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, for about US$5.7 billion in its single biggest investment.

    Temasek, which has 28 per cent of its US$197 billion portfolio in financial services, has been diversifying its portfolio in recent years, moving into consumer and life sciences.

    The share of consumer and real-estate companies rose to 15 per cent of its assets as of March 31, from 11 per cent two years earlier.

    A Temasek spokesman declined to comment on interest in Tesco, and a spokesman for MBK could not be immediately reached. The sources declined to be identified because the information is confidential.

    They said Temasek's entry marks a rare instance where the fund is bidding against fellow Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, which has partnered Carlyle.