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WSJ: Best Buy Mulling Options For China Business

Consumer electronics retailer Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY) is mulling options for its China business, and has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch to assist in the process, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. It is considering an outright sale or partnerships to run the business.

The company is also said to evaluating its larger overseas portfolio in order to focus more on its U.S. operations. It currently operates in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, and China.

The company sold back its 50 percent interest in a European joint venture with Carphone Warehouse Group plc (CPW.L) last year in a deal valued at about $775 million.

A sale of the China business could generate proceeds of about $300 million. Best Buy operates in China under the names Jiangsu Five Star and Best Buy Mobile.

China is seen as the world's largest and fastest-growing consumer market, but Best buy and most of the overseas retailers who opened shop there have been struggling against strong local competition.

Best Buy entered the Chinese market in 2006, but shuttered all nine of its branded stores there after five years in February 2011, when it merged Best Buy China's operations with Jiangsu Five Star.

It then continued to maintain its focus on Jiangsu Five Star, the local chain it acquired in May 2006. It currently runs about 190 stores in China.

Best Buy had initially opened its first global-sourcing office in Shanghai, China in 2003. It officially opened the first Best Buy-branded store in Shanghai, China in January 2007.

BBY closed Tuesday's regular trading session at $29.06, up $0.49 or 1.72% on a volume of 3.78 million shares.

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