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Chile Department Store Ripley Rises to 11-Month High on Merger Speculation

By Nathan Gill
     May 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ripley Corp SA rose to the highest in more than 11 months on speculation the Chilean retailer will integrate its department-store chain with Grupo Saieh’s supermarkets after Saieh bought a 20 percent stake in the company this month.
     Ripley climbed 5.8 percent to 418 pesos in Santiago trading. The stock earlier rose to 420 pesos, the highest intraday price since June 30.
     Rival Empresas La Polar SA received a proposal yesterday to merge its department stores with Omega supermarkets controlled by Southern Cross Latin America Private Equity Fund III LP. The offer has spurred speculation Grupo Saieh, run by Alvaro Saieh, will seek to combine Ripley’s stores with the SMU supermarket chain, Francisco Obilinovic, an investment analyst at Penta Estrategia y Inversiones, said today by phone from Santiago.
      “Before Saieh bought into Ripley he bought six different supermarket chains and now he has them under one brand,” Obilinovic said. “There is speculation that he will probably do something very similar to what Southern Cross is doing with La Polar.”

     Ripley’s Chief Financial Officer Hernan Uribe wasn’t available for comment at his office in Santiago, and didn’t respond to a message left on his mobile phone.

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