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Chinese ecommerce group JD.com considering offer for Currys

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Chinese ecommerce company JD.com has said it is in the early stages of considering an offer for Currys, setting up a possible bidding war for the UK electronics retailer.

JD.com’s interest comes just days after Currys rejected an unsolicited bid from US investment group Elliott Management, saying it significantly undervalued the company.

Elliott’s proposal of 62p a share — a roughly 32 per cent premium to its closing price on Friday — valued the company at about £700mn. Currys’ shares surged 36 per cent to 64p in early trading on Monday.

Currys chief executive Alex Baldock, who joined in 2018, has been spearheading a turnaround of the chain, which sells televisions, laptops and other electrical goods online and through 815 stores in eight countries.

During the pandemic Currys closed all 531 Carphone Warehouse stores it owned in the UK, with the loss of 2,900 jobs, in an effort to make its struggling mobile phone business profitable.

A bid from JD.com would mark a strategic shift from the Chinese retailer, which was founded in 2004 and is now facing a slowdown in its domestic market.

In a statement on Monday, JD.com said: “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.” The company’s interest was first reported by the Daily Telegraph.

Elliott, which manages about $65bn in assets and invests in public and private markets, already has some exposure to the UK high street through its ownership of bookseller Waterstones.

The hedge fund and private equity group is known for taking an activist approach to investing, engaging in boardroom battles to influence the future direction of the companies in which it has a stake.

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