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Japan's General Oyster said to draw deal interest from China

[TOKYO] General Oyster Inc, Japan's largest oyster restaurant operator, has been approached by several Chinese companies interested in buying a stake or perhaps acquiring the business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Three Chinese firms, including a large internet company, have expressed interest in separate deals with General Oyster, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The Tokyo-based company is considering whether to start talks with the potential partners, and may decline to engage, said the people. A spokeswoman for General Oyster declined to comment.

The Japanese company runs 27 oyster bars throughout Japan, harvesting wild shellfish and cultivating its own oysters, while cleaning them with deep ocean water for more than 60 hours to get rid of viruses, according to the company disclosures. It exports those to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Chinese companies are interested in General Oyster's technology and techniques for producing oysters that avoid food poisoning dangers, they said. The company, which is in trials to farm 100 per cent virus free oyster in Okinawa, received patents in 2017 and 2018.

Shares of General Oyster spiked 9.3 per cent after Bloomberg News's report, the largest intraday gain since August. The stock topped 4,000 yen after it went public in 2015, but had recently slid to less than 1,000 yen. Its market value after today's gain is 2.9 billion yen (S$35.95 million).

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There were 63 acquisitions of Japanese companies from greater China worth a total of US$3.1 billion last year, up from 41 deals worth US$2.9 billion in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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