Asda chairman Andy Bond has stepped down from his position to focus on Walmart’s Massmart acquisition in South Africa and will leave once that deal is completed, expected at the end of March.

Bond, who stepped down as chief executive last year and was succeeded by Andy Clarke, stepped down from his position as chairman on January 1. His chairman role was part-time, while he also pursued other opportunities such as becoming a non-executive director of Wiggle.

He will focus on the Massmart acquisition in South Africa, which is expected to be completed by the end of March, at which time he will leave the company altogether.

Clarke thanked Bond for his contribution to the business over the past 16 years and said: “Asda is what it is today, because of his leadership.”

Walmart international chief executive Doug McMillon said in a note to staff: “I wanted to let you know that as of January 1, 2011 Andy Bond has left his role as chairman of the Asda Executive Committee and will now be singularly focused on helping us to finalize the transaction with Massmart in South Africa. We anticipate that this assignment will be completed by the end of March, and at that time Andy will leave the company.

“During Andy’s five-year tenure as CEO of Asda, our team of colleagues has created tremendous growth in the business. In recent years, under his leadership Asda has continued its legacy of one of the finest EDLP retailers in the UK and across the Walmart chain. He is a brilliant merchant, a strong leader and an effective manager and, most recently, has been and will continue to be instrumental in our efforts to acquire a majority stake in Massmart.”

Bond said it had been a “real privilege” to be chief executive of Asda and that “the business is in great hands as he [Clarke] builds on the foundation - new formats, our growing digital businesses and support from Walmart - we have all worked on together”.