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Walmart restarts talks over sale of Asda stake

Talks were placed on hold in April as the retailer’s management sought to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Talks were placed on hold in April (Rui Vieira/PA)

Talks were placed on hold in April (Rui Vieira/PA)

Talks were placed on hold in April (Rui Vieira/PA)

Walmart and Asda have restarted talks over the potential sale of a stake in the UK supermarket chain, more than a year after its failed merger with rival Sainsbury’s.

The retail group said on Monday that it is in discussions with “a small number of third-party investors” who are interested in buying a stake in the Leeds-based grocery chain.

Talks were placed on hold in April as the retailer’s management sought to deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It said Asda has remained resilient through the outbreak, which boosted UK grocery chains as shoppers stocked up on essentials.

In May, Asda said that sales for the first quarter of 2020 increased by 3.5% against the same period last year, as shoppers cleared supermarket shelves at the start of the lockdown.

The pandemic has demonstrated Asda’s resilience and the key role we play in supporting different communitiesWalmart

The talks come 15 months after the UK competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), blocked an attempt to merge Asda with Sainsbury’s.

A Walmart spokesman said: “Walmart and Asda have restarted conversations with a small number of third-party investors who are interested in acquiring a stake in Asda and partnering with Walmart, following renewed inbound interest.

“The pandemic has demonstrated Asda’s resilience and the key role we play in supporting different communities.

“We have a clear strategy and a long heritage in delivering value for customers and with this in mind, we believe now is the right time to explore options for a third party to invest in our business to accelerate the long-term delivery of our value strategy, both in stores and online.

“There is no certainty that a transaction will happen and we will not be providing any further comments on these discussions.”

PA