Li Ka-shing's latest move to quickly close a HK$44 billion private deal with Singapore's Temasek for 25 per cent of AS Watson may be convenient for him, but the future could reveal that the sovereign wealth fund overpaid for Asia's richest man's own perceived brand and prowess.
With over 175 years of history, A.S. Watson is the largest health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, with a network of over 13,500 retail stores in 21 countries worldwide.
Its brand portfolio include health & beauty specialist Watsons, PARKnSHOP supermarket, FORTRESS electrical appliances chain and Watson’s Wine. It is also a major manufacturer, and distributor of water products and beverages in the region with Watsons Water and Mr. Juicy being the flagship brands in Hong Kong and Mainland China. In Europe, the Group operates a number of health & beauty retail brands and chains including Kruidvat, Superdrug, Rossmann, Savers, Trekpleister, Drogas, Spektr and Watsons. In addition, it also owns two luxury perfumeries and cosmetics retail brands ICI PARIS XL and The Perfume Shop.
A.S. Watson is a member of the multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited, which has five core businesses ‐ ports and related services, retail, infrastructure, energy and telecommunications in over 50 countries. The conglomerate is headed by Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s wealthiest men, who has been nicknamed “Superman” because of his investment prowess.