Best Buy considers sale of China business - WSJ

June 24 Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:04pm EDT

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June 24 (Reuters) - Electronics retailer Best Buy Co is looking at a sale of or partnership for its Chinese business to better focus on its U.S. business, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The company could get about $300 million from its Chinese business, where it operates under the names Five Star and Best Buy Mobile, the report said. (on.wsj.com/1iCSN5v)

The company is working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to consider its options and evaluate its overseas portfolio, the report said. Best Buy has stores in the United States, Canada, China and Mexico.

"We don't comment on speculation or rumors on our business," Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter told Reuters.

The world's largest consumer electronics chain, which went into China in 2006, has struggled to fend off local rivals - Suning and Gome - and has failed to carve a niche in a cluttered market.

Pulling out of China would leave Best Buy without access to one of the world's premiere growth opportunities. But it would enable Best Buy to focus on the United States, something for which investors have lobbied.

The move also could give the retailer more cash to invest in businesses with better growth prospects such as mobile and e-commerce.

Last year, the company sold its stake in a European joint venture to Carphone Warehouse Group.

In May, Best Buy reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, showing signs that Chief Executive Hubert Joly's turnaround efforts were progressing.

Since joining in the fall of 2012, Joly has removed layers of management, eliminated hundreds of jobs, closed unprofitable stores and boosted Best Buy's cash reserves in efforts to stem sales declines. (Reporting by Soham Chatterjee; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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