Fung Retailing boosts stake in reborn Toys R Us Asia

Fung Retailing has finally secured a deal to continue to operate the profitable Toys R Us Asia business.

The privately owned Hong Kong business, which is separate to the listed Li & Fung, will boost its stake in Toys R Us Asia from 15 per cent to about 21 per cent, making it the retailer’s largest shareholder.

The balance will be owned by Taj Noteholders representing a mixture of investment funds and financial institutions who have a stake in the collapsed parent company Toys R Us US.

Toys R Us Asia has never been affected by the liquidation of the US business – it has been trading profitably under Fung Retailing direction and has even been expanding its store network while shops bearing the iconic banner have been closing in post part of the world. Last week it relaunched its store in Brunei.

The new partnership between Fung Retailing and Taj Noteholders values the company at US$900 million.

“This transaction is a significant step in separating the valuable and growing Toys “R” Us Asia operation from the rest of the business,” said an unidentified spokesman for Taj Noteholders in a statement.

“The company’s growth prospects in Greater China, Japan and Southeast Asia are bright and we are excited about investing in and owning the company in partnership with Fung Retailing”.

Pieter Schats, executive director of Fung Retailing, said that since introducing Toys R Us to Hong Kong in 1986, Fung Retailing has played an integral role in the successful growth and development of the business across Asia.

“As a sign of the confidence we have in the management team and future success of Toys R Us in the region, we are pleased to increase our shareholding in the company, reflecting our commitment to support Toys R Us Asia in reaching new heights.”

The company will continue to be led by its current president & CEO Andre Javes and his management team.

Technology boost

The new owners of Toys R Us Asia plan a “significant investment in technology” to boost the company’s infrastructure.

“We are committed to remaining the leading specialty retailer of toy, education and baby products in Asia by driving innovation and quality through our products and services,” said Javes. “The conclusion of the sale process brings clarity to the company’s ownership and we look forward to strengthening and leveraging our partnerships with our vendors and commercial stakeholders. Our shareholders’ investment is a huge vote of confidence in our vision, our team and our winning model.”

Toys R Us Asia operates more than 450 stores in Japan, Greater China and Southeast Asia, including Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. It also licenses more than 85 stores in the Philippines and Macau.

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