* Marunouchi Capital seeking $490 mln including debt
* IPO an option if seller dissatisfied with bids -source
(Recasts and adds details on bidders, industry)
By Ritsuko Shimizu and Emi Emoto
TOKYO, April 18 Japanese retailers Lawson Inc
and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd are among
first-round bidders for Seijo Ishii Co, an operator of high-end
supermarkets, in a deal that could be worth up to $490 million,
sources familiar with the matter said.
Smaller-scale specialty stores like Seijo Ishii that fall
somewhere between convenience stores and full-sized supermarkets
have become a popular format in Japan as the number of elderly
and single-person households increases.
But while the owner, Japanese investment fund Marunouchi
Capital, was looking to sell Seijo Ishii for about 50 billion
yen ($490 million) including debt, sources on the bidding side
said the asking price tag looked too steep.
A source at a domestic retailer said the company had decided
not to bid as it had considered the price excessive.
Three to four domestic retailers have submitted offers, the
sources said, declining to be identified as the bidding process
is confidential. The names of the other bidders could not be
Representatives for Lawson, Japan's No.2 convenience store
operator, and Isetan Mitsukoshi, the nation's biggest department
store chain, declined to comment. Marunouchi Capital also
declined to comment.
Marunouchi Capital, owned by Mitsubishi Corp and
Mitsubishi UFJ Securities, bought Seijo Ishii, which specialises
in imported and upmarket goods, from restaurant franchiser Rex
Holdings in May 2011 for about 42 billion yen, sources have
A final decision on a buyer could come as early as autumn, a
source said but added that an initial public offering remains a
possibility if Marunouchi Capital is not satisfied with the
Seijo Ishii had 110 stores at the end of December and is
accelerating shop openings mainly at subway stations and
Lawson in February opened the first of its Lawson Mart
stores, which are aimed at marrying the convenience of 24-hour
operations with value-added goods such as fresh produce and
ready-made foods. The company is targeting 700-800 Lawson Mart
stores in Japan over the next three years.
Isetan Mitsukoshi, for its part, has been expanding its
Queen's Isetan chain of high-end food supermarkets.
($1 = 102.2650 Japanese Yen)
(Additional reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo; Writing by
Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)