Issa brothers, TDR buy £6.8bn Asda from Walmart

Mohsin and Zuber Issa

Blackburn-based petrol station billionaires the Issa brothers and funds managed by London-based private equity firm TDR Capital LLP announced on Friday they agreed to buy Leeds-based Asda from Walmart Inc. for an enterprise value of £6.8 billion.

The Issa brothers are the founders and co-CEOs of EG Group, a global convenience and petrol station forecourts retailer, headquartered in Blackburn.

Privately-held EG Group was founded with a single petrol station in Bury as Euro Garages by the Issa brothers and has grown fast around the world through a series of debt-fueled deals.

TDR Capital bought a big stake in EG Group in 2016.

“Under the new ownership structure, the Issa brothers and TDR Capital are acquiring a majority ownership stake in Asda,” said Walmart.

“Walmart will retain an equity investment in the business, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board.

“At a time of evolution in the UK food retail sector, the new owners will continue to build a strong and successful business, benefiting from fresh capital and expertise, as well as valuable links with the world’s largest retailer.

“The Issa brothers, backed by TDR Capital, will support and accelerate Asda’s existing strategy, which is anchored in delivering low prices and convenience to customers however they want to shop.

“Under the new ownership, Asda will continue to work closely with suppliers to provide best value ranges for customers in the categories that matter most to them.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to complete in the first half of 2021. 

Walmart added: “Asda will remain headquartered in Leeds, from where it built its heritage and roots, and will continue to be a significant contributor to the UK economy and tax base.

“The business will continue to be led by Roger Burnley who will form part of Asda’s Board alongside representatives appointed by the Issa brothers, TDR Capital and Walmart. 

“As well as accelerating Asda’s existing strategy, the Issa brothers will bring significant additional expertise, particularly in convenience retail and brand partnerships, drawing on their experience of building a global convenience retailer with more than 6,000 sites.

“They are well placed to support Asda in developing a compelling convenience retail proposition and taking it to market, and to advise on the development of strategic brand partnerships that will better enable Asda to address multiple consumer missions.

“Through these and other initiatives, the Asda leadership team and the company’s new ownership will be focused on building a differentiated operating model that will drive competitive outperformance and long-term growth.”

Walmart said that under its new owners, Asda will:

  • Support the current management team, led by Roger Burnley 
  • Maintain competitive pay levels for Asda staff
  • Invest over £1 billion in the next three years in Asda
  • Continue to offer low prices
  • Ensure Asda remains a price leader in the supermarket fuel sector 
  • Increase the proportion of UK-based suppliers
  • Retain Asda’s payment terms for suppliers
  • Enjoy the continued support and involvement of Walmart

Mohsin and Zuber Issa said: “We are very proud to be investing in Asda, an iconic British business that we have admired for many years.

“Asda’s customer-centric philosophy, focus on operational excellence and commitment to the communities in which it operates are the same values that we have built EG Group on.

“Asda’s performance through the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental strength and resilience of the business, and we are excited to support Roger and his team as they continue to reposition the business to drive long-term growth. 

“We believe that our experience with EG Group, including our expertise around convenience and brand partnerships and our successful partnership with TDR Capital, can help to accelerate and execute that growth strategy.

“After a successful period as part of Walmart we are looking forward to helping Asda build a differentiated business that will continue to serve customers brilliantly in communities across the UK.”

Gary Lindsay of TDR Capital said: “Asda is a strong and well-managed business with one of the leading brands in UK retail.

“We are proud to be investing alongside Mohsin and Zuber, who have built EG Group into a global convenience retailer and will now bring that experience to bear at Asda.

“We look forward to supporting them, and Roger Burnley and the management team at Asda, to build on the business’s inherent strengths and drive long-term sustainable growth.”

Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this deal today, which we believe creates the right ownership structure for Asda, building on its 71 year-heritage, whilst bringing a new entrepreneurial flair, not only to Asda, but also to UK retailing.

“I’m delighted that Walmart will retain a significant financial stake, a board seat, and will continue as a strategic partner.

“Asda has been a powerhouse of innovation for the rest of the Walmart world, and we look forward to continuing to learn from them in the future.

“This important combination will continue to keep customers and colleagues at Asda’s heart, which is important to us all.”

Asda CEO Roger Burnley said: “This new ownership opens an exciting new chapter in Asda’s long heritage of delivering great value for UK shoppers.

“With our combined investment, expertise and ambition; Asda, Walmart, the Issa brothers and TDR have an incredible opportunity to accelerate our existing strategy and develop an even more exciting offer for our customers as well as strengthen our business for our colleagues.

“In a constantly changing retailing environment, our new ownership will further enhance our resilience, whilst creating significant, additional opportunities to drive growth.

“For Asda colleagues, a strong and growing business is important for our long-term future.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.