March 24 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese billionaire Shi Yuzhu is planning to sell Shanghai Goldpartner Biotech Co., a dietary supplements maker he founded more than a decade ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
A sale of Goldpartner, whose main products include multivitamin tablets, could fetch as much as $500 million, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. UBS AG is advising Goldpartner on the sale, the people said.
The company, which employs about 23,000 people, could be attractive to domestic and international peers due to the size of its distribution network across China, one of the people said. It has 145 branches in major cities and 657 in smaller towns, its website shows.
Goldpartner competes with companies including Ada, Michigan-based Amway Corp. to sell products such as supplements they advertise as helping maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The sale process is still at an early stage, the people said.
China’s market for vitamins and dietary supplements was worth 83 billion yuan ($13.4 billion) last year, according to data from Euromonitor. Goldpartner’s two main products had a combined market share of 2 percent, down from 3 percent in 2008, the researcher’s data show. Amway ranked first in China last year with 16 percent of the market.
Shi, who is chairman of Chinese online game maker Giant Interactive Group Inc., has a net worth of about $3.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shi and investors including Baring Private Equity Asia Ltd. agreed earlier this month to take U.S.-listed Giant Interactive private for $3 billion.
The size of Shi’s stake in Goldpartner hasn’t been disclosed. A spokesman for UBS declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Goldpartner declined to comment and referred queries to Shi’s office at Giant Interactive. A phone call and e-mail to Giant Interactive’s investor relations department weren’t immediately returned.
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