Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com said it is considering a bid for UK electronics retailer Currys, after the British company said at the weekend it had rejected a rival £700 million bid from US investment firm Elliott.

JD.com, based in Beijing, began in 1998 as an online white goods seller and maintains a key focus on electronics sales.

It acquired domestic electronics chain Five Star Appliance in 2020 in order to explore the integraiton of online and offline retail.

Currys has more than 800 stores worldwide and employs 28,000 people. In the UK it operates about 300 stores with 15,000 staff.

‘Preliminary stages’

The Elliott bid of 62p per share valued Currys at about £700m, which the chain said “significantly undervalued” the company.

Reports suggested Elliott, which bought Waterstones in 2018, could return with a higher offer.

Under UK merger and acquisition rules the company has until 16 March to make another offer or walk away, while JD.com has until 18 March.

Following reports JD.com was a potential bidder for Currys, the Chinese company said it was “in the very preliminary stages of evaluating a possible transaction that may include a cash offer” for the retailer.

Retail pressure

“There can be no certainty that any offer will ultimately be made for Currys, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made,” it added.

Currys said in January that underlying sales fell 3 percent year-on-year in the key Christmas period amidst a cost-of-living spending squeeze.

But it increased its profit forecast for the year after cutting costs and seeing higher margins on some services.

Currys operates stores under the Currys brand in the UK and Ireland and has a significant Nordic business under the Elkjøp brand.

It agreed to sell its Greek business last November for £175m.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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