Brazil retailers B2W and Lojas Americanas study combining operations

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian retailer Lojas Americanas SA and e-commerce company B2W Cia Digital SA are considering merging their operations, the companies said in separate securities filings on Friday.

Lojas Americanas already controls B2W with a 62.5% stake, but has a smaller market capitalization, 41.6 billion reais as of market close on Friday, while B2W closed at 46.6 billion reais ($8.66 billion).

The two companies have for months been announcing measures to create a so-called omnichannel experience, allowing customers to leverage both B2W’s e-commerce platforms and Lojas Americanas’ brick-and-mortar presence simultaneously.

Together, the companies have 1,700 physical stores in 750 cities in Brazil, as well as an online marketplace with more than 87,000 vendors. The companies said that a merger of operations could create a powerful advertising operation.

A committee will be appointed to study specifics of the combination and present options to the boards of both companies, the filing said.

The companies did not say when the relevant studies would be concluded.

($1 = 5.38 reais)

Reporting by Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro and Aluísio Alves in Sao Paulo; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman