Opinion: Tesco should double down in Asia, not cash out

Tesco Lotus Thailand

Incoming Tesco boss Ken Murphy must have been hoping for a relaxed Christmas this year before taking on his new role next spring.

Age-old seasonal dilemmas over which wine to drink at Christmas dinner, what football match to watch on Boxing Day, or whether or not to tell your aunt that you didn’t want another Lynx Africa gift set have suddenly been usurped by a much bigger conundrum – should Tesco sell its Asian business?

CEO-designate Murphy will surely have a say in answering that question, alongside outgoing chief executive Dave Lewis, as Tesco reviews the future of its Thai and Malaysian operations following a shock approach from a mystery suitor.

The sums involved in any potential transaction would be huge – Tesco’s Thai business is valued at around $7bn (£5.3bn), while its Malaysian division could fetch $2bn (£1.5bn).

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