UK supermarket giant Tesco is on the verge of establishing a 15 strong chain of hypermarkets in Malaysia with an investment of around RM1.2bn raised through external borrowing and shareholders' equity, it was revealed last Friday (15 December).

A 70:30 venture agreement, with the Sime Darby Group as the minority shareholder, will see Tesco's presence on the market increase from the end of next year, although the precise dates of the store openings will depend on the market conditions at the time.

The agreement is also conditional as it awaits approval from the Malaysian ministry of domestic trade and consumer affairs.

Alongside its core business in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Tesco operates outlets across Europe and Asia, and sources revealed that it is hoping to reduce dependence on the UK arena. Fifty hypermarkets are planned for Asia during next year alone, and it is hoped that 140 will be operational by 2005.