Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited (GIC) is among investors vying to buy up to 20% stake in grocer Bach Hoa Xanh Trading Joint Stock Company from Vietnam's retail giant Mobile World Investment Corporation (HOSE:MWG), in a deal that could value the grocery chain at up to $1.7 billion, two sources said. GIC declined to comment. Other bidders include companies from Thailand, the sources added, declining to be named as the matter is private.

The identity of the potential buyers has not been reported previously. "The deal is nearing to the finalising stage and expected to close soon," one of the sources with knowledge of the matter said, adding that a deal could be sealed as early as the first quarter of next year if negotiations are successful. In a statement to Reuters, Mobile World said it would announce the information once the deal was concluded.

"We are still in a private placement and have signed an agreement not to disclose information with interested bidders," it said. The potential deal would intensify competition in Vietnam's retail market. Drawn by the rapid urbanization in a country of 100 million people, domestic and foreign retailers are seeking to expand or gain a foothold.

The sources said the deal could value Bach Hoa Xanh, Vietnam's third largest grocery chain, at around $1.5 billion - $1.7 billion.