Walmart confirms talks on Asda stake sale

Walmart and its Leeds-based subsidiary Asda confirmed late on Wednesday they are in talks with possible buyers of a stake in Asda.

The news followed a report by Bloomberg that private equity funds approached Walmart about at stake in Asda.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked a £7.3 billion takeover of Asda by Sainsbury’s last year after finding it would lead to increased prices in stores, online and at many petrol stations across the UK.

Walmart then said it was “seriously considering” a stock market flotation for Asda.

Walmart bought Asda for £6.7 billion in 1999.

In a joint statement from Asda and Walmart, the two companies said: “Walmart firmly believes that an IPO (flotation) is an attractive long-term objective for Asda.

“Asda is a great business with a clear strategy for the future and Walmart is committed to ensuring it has the resources and support it needs to deliver that strategy.

“Walmart has a clear international strategy around ‘strong local businesses, powered by Walmart’ – which involves a number of different ownership arrangements depending on the needs of its different markets. 

“Following inbound interest Walmart and Asda can confirm that we are currently considering whether there is an opportunity for a third party to invest in Asda, alongside Walmart, in order to support and accelerate the delivery of Asda’s strategy and position Asda for long term success. 

“Together, we are in discussions with a small number of interested parties who share Walmart and Asda’s commitment and passion to growing the business – and who share our values, both for our customers and colleagues. 

“No decisions have been made and we will not be commenting further on these discussions.

“If or when we decide to pursue this opportunity further our first priority will be to share more detailed information with our colleagues.”