JAKARTA: A number of foreign retailers are circling around the Jakarta-listed Matahari Putra Prima hypermarkets and supermarkets group in a bid to gain a foothold in Indonesia.

The Matahari Group, one of the most powerful retailers in the region, has hired Merrill Lynch to review "all strategic options to maximise shareholder value", including a possible acquisition, the Financial Times reports.

It is already accepting bids for 82 hypermarkets and supermarkets spread across the country, which together account for annual sales of roughly $1billion (€0.71bn; £0.61bn).

One enthusiastic candidate is Lotte Shopping, the second-largest retailer in South Korea and currently engaged in overseas expansion.

"We have been looking for opportunities to expand abroad, especially in the retail sector," said a spokesman, adding that Indonesia's 237 million population made it an attractive target for overseas investment plans.

With a number of recent deals in China, Russia and other parts of south-east Asia already under its belt, Lotte believes that foreign buyouts are the only logical way to cope with increased competition in the home market.

Lotte took over Times, the Chinese supermarket operator, for $630 million (€449m; £390m) last year and already runs 21 outlets in Indonesia through the 2008 acquisition of PT Indonesia Makro, a Dutch wholesaler.

The current interest in Indonesia's booming retail sector comes hard on the heels of the sale of Matahari's department stores business, a separate unit, to CVC Capital in January for $806 million (€575m; £450m).

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff