The parent company is in discussions to offload a majority stake in Asda, reporting “inbound interest” in a deal.
Walmart has said it was talking to a “small number of interested parties” about a possible investment, adding that it would be likely to retain a stake in Asda if the plan moved forward.
Walmart purchased Asda in 1999. After UK regulators blocked a plan to merge Asda with Sainsbury’s last year, on fears it would raise prices for consumers, Walmart considered a stock market flotation for Asda, having struggled to find a suitable investor to buy the business. This week, the firm said that a flotation remained “an attractive long-term objective”.
“Asda is a great business with a clear strategy for the future and Walmart is committed to ensuring it has the resources and support it needs to deliver that strategy,” Walmart said in a statement.
Walmart has overhauled its international strategy in recent years, scaling back its business in some countries while partnering with local firms in markets where it sees growth. In 2018, it took a majority stake in Indian online retailer, Flipkart. It also has partnerships with China’s JD.com and Japan’s Rakuten.
“Walmart has a clear international strategy around ‘strong local businesses, powered by Walmart’ – which involves a number of different ownership arrangements, depending on the needs of its different markets,” the company said, adding that a potential third-party investment in Asda would be intended to “support and accelerate the delivery of Asda’s strategy and position Asda for long-term success.”