Walmart said to seek September bids for US$10-billion grocer Asda

Walmart Inc has asked suitors for its UK grocery unit Asda to submit second-round bids by early September, according to people familiar with the matter, as it forges ahead with a revived sale of the business.

Private equity firms Apollo Global Management Inc, Lone Star Funds and TDR Capital are considering binding offers by the deadline, the people said. Asda could fetch around US$10 billion in any sale, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

An Asda grocery store (Photo: Retail Gazette)

Other potential buyers could also emerge, the people said. Representatives for Walmart, Asda, Apollo and TDR declined to comment. A spokesperson for Lone Star couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Apollo, Lone Star and TDR each submitted offers for Asda earlier this year and were invited to join a second round of bidding, Bloomberg News reported in March. Weeks later, Walmart shelved the process to focus management’s attention on running the business amid unprecedented demand from consumers stockpiling for the COVID-19 lockdown.

Walmart said last week it was reviving the planned sale of Asda, which it has been seeking to offload for at least two years. It reached an agreement with rival supermarket chain J Sainsbury Plc in 2018, only to see the proposed £7.3-billion (US$9.4-billion) deal blocked by UK antitrust authorities.

(From left) Alice Walton, Jim Walton and Rob Walton, the children of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, in 2011. (Photo: Beth Hall/ Bloomberg)

In its latest quarterly update, Asda said comparable sales jumped 3.5 per cent in the three months through March. Demand levels were so high it was receiving 3,500 visits a minute to its website in the week starting March 18, according to Asda.