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China Resources Enterprise Ltd., the Chinese partner of SABMiller Plc, said it may spend as much as HK$5.5 billion ($707 million) on acquisitions by the end of the year after first-half profit more than tripled. The shares slid.“We have negotiations at the moment in all four sectors” of retail, beer, non-alcoholic beverages and food, Chief Financial Officer Frank Lai said in Hong Kong yesterday. He declined to name specific targets.Net income for the government-backed company climbed to HK$4.24 billion in the first half from HK$1.16 billion a year earlier on surging growth at its retail division, which has 2,900 stores. China Resources said in June that it was buying control of Pacific Coffee Group, Hong Kong’s second-largest coffee chain, posing a threat to Starbucks Corp.’s leadership on the mainland.China Resources will open coffee shops at some of its 200 5,000 square-meter (54,000 square-foot) hypermarkets, “allowing customers to relax,” Lai said. “It’s a good time to tap the China coffee market.”Starbucks has about 380 stores in China and plans to have “thousands” there eventually, Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz said in April.
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