Walmart is exploring the possibility of exiting from Asda after the CMA blocked its merger with fellow big four grocer Sainsbury’s.
The American company is mulling a float or sale as private equity firms and other bidders circle, reports the Daily Mail. It is looking to exit the UK market and focus on more profitable emerging markets such as India.
A trade buyer could be a more likely outcome for the supermarket as grocery margins have historically proved too low for private equity buyers, who will not see a clear exit strategy, although KKR has been identified as an interested party.
British grocery may also be too unattractive an investment opportunity for a float on the London Stock Exchange. The market is shifting from consumers shopping once a week at one of the big four – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons – to a mix of convenience shops and online shopping while the discounters continue to win market share.
Asda’s merger with Sainsbury’s would have created a £10bn grocery giant. Walmart International boss Judith McKenna vowed to ensure Asda remained competitive in the UK market after the decision by the CMA.