The ownership team behind supermarket chain Asda could be set to shuffle again after reports emerged that one of the Issa brothers is exploring a sale in his stake of the business.
Zuber Issa, one of the two brothers who currently own the grocery giant, possesses 22.5% of Asda after the 2021 takeover of the retailer by himself, his older brother Mohsin and private equity firm TDR Capital for £6.8bn.
However, the younger Issa is said to be in discussions to sell his Asda shares to focus on EG Group, the petrol forecourt business in which the two brothers made their fortunes, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Any attempts by Zuber to sell his Asda shareholdings are thought to be complicated by apparent ‘lock-in agreements’ with both his brother and TDR Capital, which would require all parties to agree to any deal.
Zuber founded EG in 2001, bringing Mohsin on board some years later, and the two subsequently expanded the petrol forecourts business to more than 6,000 stations across 10 countries.
Rumours of a sale come at a time when the brothers’ relationship appears to be under strain due to the alleged breakdown of Mohsin’s marriage and ongoing questions about how the pair were able to finance a deal for Asda in the first place.
The brothers put just £100m of their own money into the initial Asda deal, with the remainder coming from what Bloomberg called “the largest sterling corporate bond sale on record”, as well as a loan from the parent company of EG Group.
In October, Asda announced it had acquired EG Group’s UK business for £2bn in a move that was seen as another debt restructuring to avoid paying larger interest rates.
Asda chair Lord Stuart Rose said the acquisition would create a “powerful consumer champion” and a “price leader” on fuel and groceries.