South Korea’s CJ Foodville Co. denied rumors that it has been contacting private equity funds to sell bakery chain Tous Les Jours, its last remaining franchise brand.
Investment banking sources familiar with the matter said CJ Corp., the holding company of South Korean food and entertainment conglomerate CJ Group, has been pitching the sale to private equity firms since last year.
CJ, in a disclosure on Friday, denied the report, saying the sale was not under review.
CJ shares closed Friday up 0.88 percent at 80,000 won ($65).
Tous Les Jours is a bakery chain operated by CJ Foodville, a food service unit under CJ Group. The estimated price tag is around 500 billion won to 600 billion won.
The sale is more likely to appeal to private equity firms than large corporations, one market observer noted.
CJ Foodville has undertaken aggressive restructuring over the past two years to trim costs amid crippling losses.
Last year, it sold its 45 percent stake in coffee shop chain A Twosome Place to Hong Kong-based private equity firm Anchor Equity Partners for 202.5 billion won. It also slashed the number of outlets at its restaurant chains VIPS and Season’s Table.
Such efforts have helped improve its bottom line. In 2019, CJ Foodville swung to a net profit of 126.7 billion won, its best performance in five years, after registering a 32.5 billion won loss in the previous year.
Launched in 1997, Tous Les Jours has grown to become Korea’s second-largest bakery chain. As of late 2019, it had 1,318 stores, second only to Paris Baguette, which owns 3,336 outlets, according to the Fair Trade Commission.
Tous Les Jours commanded a solid market share of 14.2 percent in 2019, a distant second to Paris Baguette’s 52.6 percent but more than double Dunkin’ Donuts’ 6.2 percent, according to global market research firm Euromonitor.
By Kang Woo-seok, Park Jae-young and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]