China’s JD.com in Early-Stage Talks to Buy UK Retailer Currys


(Bloomberg) — Chinese e-commerce operator JD.com Inc. is the latest company to consider buying UK electronics retailer Currys Plc, as a path to toward new avenues for growth away from home.

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JD.com “is in the very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer for the entire issued share capital of Currys,” the company said in a regulatory filing on Monday. It came in response to a report by the Telegraph that the two sides held exploratory talks in recent weeks. JD.com has until March 18 to decide whether to make an offer, the company noted in its statement.

Currys said over the weekend that it rejected an offer of 62 pence a share from Elliott Advisors that it believed “significantly undervalued” the London-based company. Its stock surged to about that price on Monday, after marking its biggest intraday jump of 38%.

Elliott’s bid would have valued Currys at about £700 million ($882 million). It is not known how much JD.com is willing to offer, and a company spokesperson declined to comment further. Currys operates about 300 stores in the UK and employs more than 15,000 people.

Read more: Currys CEO Lashes Out at UK Government on Taxes, Minimum Wage

JD.com faces stiff competition in China from up-and-comers like PDD Holdings Inc. and ByteDance Ltd. In recent months, the company nearly doubled salaries for some of its front-line staff to boost morale and shifted its focus to smaller cities. Like many other Chinese tech firms, JD.com has also intensified efforts to expand internationally as domestic consumption struggles to recover from three years of strict Covid curbs.

In a letter to employees earlier this month, the company said it needed to “prepare for the complex competitive environment,” in part by building up logistics capabilities in “major countries” in the next three years.

“We will persistently set up international shopping platform channels to provide more low-priced, quality products for consumers and boost our supply chain capabilities overseas,” said the letter, reported earlier by local media and confirmed by the company spokesperson.

–With assistance from Vlad Savov.

(Updates with latest share price move in third paragraph)

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