Thailand's BJC says purchase of Metro's Vietnam unit to boost sales by 50 pct
* To conclude how to finance the acquisition on Aug 19
By Khettiya Jittapong and Saranya Suksomkij
BANGKOK Aug 8 (Reuters) - Thai consumer conglomerate Berli Jucker (BJC) expects its acquisition of the Vietnam cash-and-carry unit of German's Metro AG to boost annual sales by at least half next year to almost 63 billion baht ($1.96 billion).
BJC, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said it had agreed to buy the Metro unit for 655 million euros ($876 million) to expand into the fast growing consumer goods sector in Southeast Asia.
After the purchase is completed in the first half of next year, BJC said it expects overall sales to jump 50 percent. Last year, BJC's sales amounted to 42 billion baht. The company is the largest glass bottle maker in Southeast Asia and makes a range of consumer goods including tissue paper, snacks and soap.
"We aim to be a leader in supply chain. The acquisition in Vietnam will not only help us achieve the target, but also give us the opportunity to tap one the fastest growing markets in ASEAN," Metinee Isarachinda, assistant vice president of investor relations, told Reuters.
BJC plans to use capital and debt to finance the acquisition and will decide how to raise fund in a board meeting on Aug 19, she added.
Metro Vietnam is the country's second biggest wholesale grocery store chain, generating sales of 516 million euros in the 2012/13 fiscal year.
BJC is seeking to grow its business abroad to offset slowing demand at home. Vietnam's retail market, worth $124 billion last year, is expected to grow 12 percent this year which is slower than the 31 percent growth in 2008 as the economy weakens, but that is still higher than the 7 percent growth projected for retail sales in Thailand.
BJC is already exposed to Vietnam's $124 billion consumer market through its 65 percent stake in B's Mart convenience stores.
On Friday, BJC shares fell as much as 4 percent on concerns that the company may need to raise funds via equity to finance the acquisition. ($1 = 32.1500 Thai Baht) ($1=21,190 dong) (Additional reporting by Mai Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Miral Fahmy)
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