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A S Watson Sells Stake In Travel Service Venture

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The retail arm of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa said it has agreed to sell its 50 percent interest in a travel services business to joint-venture partner Nuance Group for an undisclosed sum.

A S Watson Group said the sale is expected to be completed by the end of June.

"We see this deal as an opportunity for us to focus on our core retail operations, as we continue to expand rapidly in Asia and Europe," A S Watson managing director Dominic Lai said in a statement.

The Nuance-Watson joint venture operates 46 stores in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China's Zhuhai special economic zone, as well as Singapore and Malaysia. It offers travel-related services primarily in airports, and also at duty-free stores in downtown shopping areas.

Singapore state investor Temasek in March agreed to buy just under a quarter of A S Watson for about USD$5.7 billion - its single biggest investment and one that would boost its exposure to Asia's fast growing consumer sector.

(Reuters)