* Offering to fund expansion plans, possible acquisitions
* To be split evenly between local, international investors
* Sanborns accounts for half of Grupo Carso sales
By Cyntia Barrera
MEXICO CITY, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Tycoon Carlos Slim’s retail unit said it plans to relist on the Mexican stock exchange, offering a 15.2 percent stake to raise some $720 million to fund expansion plans, including possible acquisitions.
Grupo Sanborns, the retail arm which accounts for about half of sales for Slim’s conglomerate Grupo Carso, operates coffee shops, restaurants and department stores. It previously traded in Mexico but delisted some years ago.
Slim, who Forbes ranks as the world’s richest man, controls a business empire that includes Latin America’s biggest telecommunications firm, America Movil, as well as banking, construction, real estate and mining companies.
Seeking to raise 9.1 billion pesos, Sanborns will split the up to 350 million share offering, which is still subject to approval by shareholders, equally between domestic and international investors. That includes a greenshoe option of 45 million shares.
In 2010, the retailer flirted with the idea of opening a branch in Manhattan but the plan never panned out.
Sanborns brought luxury store Saks Fifth Avenue to Mexico in 2007 and has opened a second store since. Slim is a top shareholder in Saks Inc.
For the third-quarter of 2012, it earned 552 million pesos ($44 million) on 8.9 billion pesos in sales.
Sanborns tracks its origin to a small drug store founded in downtown Mexico City in 1903 by young American brothers Walter and Frank Sanborn.
The small business added a soda fountain that quickly drew an eclectic crowd, from Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, who was fond of sundaes and banana splits, to Revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who went in for hot cocoa.
The business, which kept its logo of three owls atop a tree branch representing Frank Sanborn and his two children, was sold to Slim’s Grupo Carso in 1985.
The coffee chain is a stop for students on a budget who can easily hook up to its wi-fi network while drinking inexpensive coffee and office workers seeking an after-hours drink.