The race for CJ Rokin Logistics, one of the Chinese subsidiaries of CJ Logistics, is heating up as interest from potential buyers remains high, prompting auction manager Morgan Stanley to pursue the sale process through progressive bidding.

This means the seller will utilize its strong bargaining power to enter into a price negotiation with each bidder, making it compete for a higher price.

“This appears to be a strategy to raise the price tag even higher,” said an insider.

The move came after most of the shortlisted bidders, including Chinese firms JD.com and SF Express, submitted their final offers, reflecting strong buyer interest.

CJ Logistics reportedly was targeting 1 trillion won ($889.5 million) for its Chinese unit, but industry watchers now believe the company could fetch a higher valuation.

“Bidders in the race for CJ Rokin all have deep pockets, so a heated bidding war will likely push up the price tag,” said another industry insider. “The deal is expected to be signed soon after a preferred buyer is named.”

The largest shareholder in CJ Rokin, formerly known as Rokin Logistics, is CJKX Rokin Holdings Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) jointly set up by CJ Logistics and private equity firm STIC Investments in 2015 to acquire the business. The SPV owns about 73% of the Chinese firm, with 53% held by CJ Logistics.

The sale is seen as part of a restructuring process. CJ Rokin’s business areas partly overlap with those of CJ Speedex and CJ Smart Cargo, CJ Logistics’ other Chinese subsidiaries, industry watchers said.

CJ Speedex provides logistics solutions for electronic goods, and CJ Smart Cargo the transportation of plant and construction equipment. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)

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