Asda comes back to Britain

Walmart is to sell supermarket chain Asda to billionaires Moshin and Zuber Issa and the private-equity firm TDR Capital.

Walmart once tried – and failed – to merge Asda, its UK operation, with Sainsbury’s. Now it has agreed to sell the supermarket chain to “two billionaire brothers from Blackburn”, Moshin and Zuber Issa, and the private-equity firm TDR Capital, says Zoe Wood in The Guardian. 

The deal, which will see Walmart retain a minority stake in the company, as well as a seat on the board, values Asda at around £6.8bn, only “slightly more” than the £6.7bn that Walmart paid in 1999. This reflects the fact that, even with Walmart’s “financial power”, Asda has “struggled” in the “ferociously competitive” grocery market.

The “self-made” Issas are touted by Walmart as the “secret sauce” of the deal, says Deirdre Hipwell on Bloomberg. This is because Walmart hopes that the brothers can use their ownership of EG Group, which operates food outlets and stores on over 6,000 different sites, including petrol stations and highway service areas, to help Asda break into the “lucrative convenience-store market”. However, Britain’s convenience-store arena is “crowded with competitors”, with many of the best sites already “snapped up”, while there is also evidence that the rapid growth “may be poised to cool”. Covid-19 has also moved a lot of food shopping online.

The government has welcomed Asda returning to British ownership, says Christopher Williams in The Sunday Telegraph. But the cost of the deal is fuelled by £4bn of junk bonds and leveraged loans, so the Exchequer will be “out of pocket for some time”. The cost of the borrowing will be offset against Asda’s profits.

Recommended

The after effects of the gas-price shock
Economy

The after effects of the gas-price shock

In the wake of the recent spike in the natural gas price, we can expect slower growth, an industrial recession – and a newly assertive Russia, says Ma…
17 Oct 2021
The charts that matter: bond yields slip while bitcoin tops $60,000
Economy

The charts that matter: bond yields slip while bitcoin tops $60,000

Cryptocurrency bitcoin soared to over $60,000 this week, while government bond yields fell back. Here’s how that has affected the charts that matter m…
16 Oct 2021
Whistleblower allegations – where now for Facebook?
Tech stocks

Whistleblower allegations – where now for Facebook?

The social-media giant has come in for some fierce criticism following revelations from a former employee. Just how much damage has been done?
16 Oct 2021
Inflation, energy crisis, strikes – have we gone back to the 1970s?
Investment strategy

Inflation, energy crisis, strikes – have we gone back to the 1970s?

Merryn and John talk about rising prices, productivity and the state of the labour market, plus are bond investors really the adults in the room, and …
15 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets
US Economy

Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets

The US added only 194,000 jobs in September, far shorter than the 500,000 that were expected. John Stepek explains why markets didn't react as they no…
11 Oct 2021
How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy
Energy

How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy

The UK’s electricity supply needs to be more robust for days when the wind doesn’t blow. We need nuclear power, says Dominic Frisby. And the future of…
6 Oct 2021
Inflation is still one of the biggest threats to your personal finances
Investment strategy

Inflation is still one of the biggest threats to your personal finances

Central bankers and economists insist inflation will be gone by next year. We're not so sure, says Merryn Somerset Webb. So if you haven’t started to …
1 Oct 2021