Temasek Holding announced on Friday that it has agreed to invest 5.7 billion U.S. dollars to acquire 24.95 percent stake in A.S. Watson, an international health and beauty retailer under control by Li Ka-shing, one of the most famous tycoons in Asia. With this investment, subject to customary closing conditions, Temasek said it has increased its exposure to the consumer retail sector, with a balanced focus on a growing Asia and a recovering Europe. Hong Kong-listed Hutchison Whampoa, the parent company of A.S. Watson also said on Friday that the transaction is scheduled to be completed in this April. After that, the Hutchison Whampoa will have an equity interest of 75.05 percent and will retain control of A.S. Watson. A.S. Watson is the largest international health and beauty retailer with over 10,500 stores operating 14 retail brands in 25 markets worldwide. Its flagship brand Watsons operates over 4,000 stores and more than 900 pharmacies, including those in nine Asian markets, namely China's mainland, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, China's Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. "The consumer retail sector is a good proxy to growing middle income populations and transforming economies," said Chia Song Hwee, head of Investment Group and co-head for China in Temasek, in a statement on Friday. "This is very much part of our investment themes as we shape Temasek's portfolio for the long term. We continue to believe in the growth opportunities and long term prospects of Asia, particularly China, and a recovering Europe," he added. Li Ka-shing said it would be less likely to get Watson listed within the year. It could only be listed in Singapore or Hong Kong in two to three years. Hutchison Whampoa and Temasek have agreed to work together towards listing A.S. Watson "at a suitable time."