Metro AG expects at least eight parties to make second-round bids for its Chinese operations, Reuters reported on May 27, citing people directly involved in the matter.
Two of the sources reportedly said the German supermarket operator has asked the shortlist of bidders to submit their offers by June 10 and that the process is expected to conclude in September.
Those selected for the second round of bidding reportedly include electronics retailer Suning Holdings Group Co. Ltd., Wumart Stores Inc. and private equity firm Primavera Capital Group, according to the people. They also said Chinese food startup Meicai with private equity firm Hopu Jinghua (Beijing) Investment Consultancy Co. Ltd. made it to the list, as well as Hillhouse Capital Group with supermarket chain Yonghui Superstores Co. Ltd. and private equity firm Boyu Capital Consultancy Co. Ltd. with real estate developer China Vanke Co. Ltd.
One of the sources reportedly added that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is working on a bid with Taiwanese hypermarket chain RT-Mart International Ltd., while two sources said Tencent Holdings Ltd. is considering joining the race via its minority stake in Yonghui.
Three of the sources also noted that Walmart Inc. is on the list of second-round bidders, according to the report.
Most e-commerce businesses want access to Metro's overseas supply chain since it offers premium imported products that rivals do not have access to, the report added.
Boyu Capital, Vanke and Alibaba all reportedly declined to comment, while Walmart could not immediately respond to a request for comment outside of regular U.S. business hours. Reuters added that it could not reach Meicai or Wumart for comment and that the other bidders did not respond to emailed comment requests.
The development comes at a time where Metro is in exclusive talks to also sell its Real hypermarket chain to a consortium led by Redos Group.
In an email to S&P Global Market Intelligence, a Metro spokesperson said the German wholesaler "is aiming for a strategic partnership to maximize the growth potential of our Chinese business."
"We have started a formal process of conversations with a number of potential partners which is progressing very well. Metro will now significantly narrow the list of partners for further talks. Please understand that we do not comment on names or further details," the spokesperson said.