HONG KONG, Aug. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Hutchison Whampoa Limited (Hutchison) today announced that it has, through its wholly owned subsidiary A.S. Watson (ASW), made an offer to acquire one of Europe's leading Health & Beauty retail businesses, the Kruidvat Group, for approximately EUR1,300 million. Kruidvat has a store portfolio of 1,900 outlets and employs 24,000 people in six European nations. The addition of the Kruidvat Group significantly enhances ASW's presence in Europe, its leading market position, its earnings growth, and in addition provides synergies with ASW's existing operations. The Kruidvat outlets, in conjunction with ASW's existing 930 personal care stores, makes ASW one of the world's largest health and beauty chains. Combined sales of the ASW Group and the Kruidvat Group would exceed EUR 7 billion in 2002. The companies being acquired include Health and Beauty retail chains Superdrug in the UK, Kruidvat and Trekpleister in the Netherlands, Kruidvat in Belgium and Rossmann (50% interest) in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic; and Perfumery retail chain ICI Paris XL in the Netherlands and Belgium. Commenting on the transaction, Canning Fok, Hutchison's Group Managing Director said, "Kruidvat Group was chosen for its exceptional reputation and market leader position. It is an excellent fit for our expanding retail business, giving us a more diversified portfolio and better geographical balance. The acquisition also provides us with many opportunities for synergies pan Europe and Asia." Ian Wade, Group Managing Director of A.S. Watson expressed his enthusiasm over the transaction, "A.S. Watson is proud to add the Kruidvat Group to our personal care retail family. Kruidvat Group has a similar business culture and store format as ASW and we believe this will provide strong synergies between us." With the addition of the Kruidvat Group, ASW's European portfolio will be dramatically expanded from nine to 12 countries. The acquisition also provides a strong platform for continued expansion into the European health and beauty market which has posted consistent growth over the last three years. Dick van Hedel, Chief Executive Officer of Kruidvat Group called the acquisition, "a rarity in today's business world, the acquisition of a company by a shareholder with significant strategic value," adding that, "the experience and global strength of HWL will help us achieve new heights." Hutchison's acquisition of Kruidvat is the latest move in the Group's strategic expansion into Europe's retail market, following its acquisition of UK-based chain Savers in 2000. Hutchison also has substantial investments and operations in a wide range of businesses in Europe, including ports, third generation (3G) multimedia mobile services, property development and water businesses. Conditions for closing the transaction include approval from EU regulatory authorities. About Hutchison Whampoa Hutchison Whampoa is a Hong Kong-based multinational conglomerate with origins dating back to the 1800s. Hutchison is also part of the Li Ka-shing group of companies, which together represent about 15% of the total market capitalization of the Hong Kong stock market. In 2001, HWL's consolidated turnover (including associates) was HK$89,038 million and net profit was HK$12,088 million. With over 120,000 employees worldwide, Hutchison operates and invests in five core businesses in 37 countries: ports and related services; telecommunications; property and hotels; retail and manufacturing; and energy and infrastructure. For more information, please visit http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com About A.S. Watson (ASW) With history dating back to 1828, A.S. Watson (ASW) has evolved into an international retail and manufacturing business with operations in 17 countries in Asia and Europe. The Group currently operates over 1,300 retail stores, owns more than 20 water and juice brands and employs more than 27,000 staff worldwide. ASW houses Asia's largest health and beauty chain Watsons Your Personal Store with 650 outlets in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. In Europe, ASW operates Savers health and beauty chain, the fastest growing UK retailer in its sector, with 280 outlets in the UK. About Kruidvat Group Kruidvat Holding is one of the largest drugstore chains in Europe with a store portfolio of 1,900 outlets and employs 24,000 people in six European nations. The company operates Health and Beauty retail chains Superdrug in the UK, Kruidvat and Trekpleister in the Netherlands, Kruidvat in Belgium and Rossmann (50% interest) in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic; and Perfumery retail chain ICI Paris XL in the Netherlands and Belgium.
SOURCE A.S. Watson