By Denny Thomas and Heng Xie HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - Canadian retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc and China's Tencent Holdings Ltd are among suitors short-listed to buy a $16 billion minority stake in China's Sinopec Sales, the world's largest fuel retail network, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. China Life Insurance Co Ltd, the nation's biggest insurer, Hong Kong-listed ENN Energy Holdings Ltd, privately-owned Fosun Group, Hopu Investment Management and Affinity Equity Partners have also progressed to the next round, said the people who declined to be identified as the sale process is confidential.
By Shinichi Saoshiro TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks were steady on Wednesday after strong U.S. Spreadbetters expected a slightly lower open for Europe ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting minutes release later in the day. Tokyo's Nikkei inched up 0.1 percent. Wall Street drew support from robust housing data on Tuesday, which pushed up Treasury yields and drove the dollar to a nine-month high against the euro.
By Sarah Marsh and Walter Bianchi BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - President Cristina Fernandez on Tuesday unveiled legislation that seeks to push bondholders to swap defaulted debt for new notes governed by Argentine law, a move aimed at skirting a U.S. Argentina slid into default last month after a New York court blocked an interest payment of $539 million owed to holders of debt issued under U.S. The judge said Argentina could not proceed with that payment until it had also settled on repayment terms with a group of hedge funds that had rejected the restructuring deal and are demanding full payment. Fernandez has argued Argentina is not in default and has consistently labeled the adverse U.S.
By Soyoung Kim NEW YORK (Reuters) - PetSmart Inc said on Tuesday it will explore a potential sale of the company, bowing to mounting pressure from several shareholders led by activist investor Jana Partners LLC. Reuters reported earlier on Tuesday that the pet supply retailer, which has a market capitalization of nearly $7 billion, has decided to review strategic alternatives and could announce the intention to do so as soon as this week. PetSmart said its board determined that it will explore alternatives to maximize value for shareholders, including a possible sale, following "many constructive conversations" with a wide range of shareholders over the last several months. There is no guarantee the review will lead to a deal and PetSmart could still determine that it would be better off on its own, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier on Tuesday, asking not to be named because the matter is not public. Shares of PetSmart rose much as 5 percent on the news, and closed up 1.8 percent to $69.70 on Tuesday.
By Taiga Uranaka TOKYO (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc is preparing to sell its Japanese retail banking operations, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, as it waves the white flag on a venture plagued by regulatory troubles and anemic lending. The company which pioneered 24-hour ATMs in Japan and was the only foreign bank to make a major push into its retail banking sector is throwing in the towel after failing to gain enough scale to justify its costs. Citigroup has also signaled a desire to refocus its overseas strategy on growth markets and away from saturated mature markets such as Japan, where it has been doing business for more than a century. Citi has approached Japan's top three lenders, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) , Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) about a sale, as well as regional banks, said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.