CJ Group has received binding offers from all six shortlisted bidders as competition heats up in beauty chain CJ Olive Young’s pre-initial public offering (pre-IPO), with much of the focus now on Hyundai Department Store Group, the only strategic investor in the race.

The remaining bidders after the final round on Thursday (December 17) were financial investors Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area, JKL Partners, IMM Private Equity, STIC Investments and Glenwood Private Equity, and Hyundai Department Store Group.

Market insiders have mixed views on whether Hyundai Department Store Group is keen to acquire the stake, given the business structure of the country’s major retail companies.

The department store chain was widely expected to consider the acquisition to help cement its position in the retail industry. Hyundai Department Store Group and CJ Group have built partner-client relationships in department store and home-shopping businesses, which indicates that they share the same interests. An offline health and beauty store has been a missing piece in the business portfolio of Hyundai Department Store Group.

There is speculation that the department store group may be staying in the race because it has a specific business strategy to create synergies with CJ’s beauty business. Retail companies can operate offline H&B stores relatively freely thanks to loose restrictions, whereas home-shopping businesses require the government’s approval.

However, CJ Olive Young’s dominant position in the market is a hurdle that has kept latecomers from entering the industry. The company has more than 1000 stores nationwide, with a market share exceeding 50%, and its customer base is expanding as men and younger consumers become interested in beauty products.

“We had proposed to Hyundai Department Store to jointly invest in a company which runs a business that is similar to that of CJ Olive Young at home and abroad, but it didn’t work out,” said an industry source. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)