LONDON (Reuters) - Sainsbury’s and Walmart’s Asda are in talks to create Britain’s biggest supermarket group, a combination which would surpass Tesco’s grocery market share and be worth up to 15 billion pounds ($20.7 billion).
Sainsbury’s confirmed on Saturday that it and Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, were in advanced discussions regarding a combination of the Sainsbury’s and Asda businesses, the UK’s No. 2 and 3 UK grocers. It said they will make a further announcement at 0600 GMT on Monday.
Britain’s big grocers, including No. 4 player Morrisons, have been losing share to German discounters Aldi and Lidl and must also deal with growing demand for internet grocery shopping and the march of Amazon.
Sainsbury’s gave no details of the deal’s structure but a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters the holding company of the combined group would retain the Sainsbury’s name. Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Mike Coupe, who used to work for Asda, would lead it, the source said.
The source described the planned deal — which would consolidate a brutally competitive UK food market while helping Walmart address its underperforming UK arm through greater buying power — as a “merger”.
Three sources with knowledge of the situation said Walmart would take a minority stake in the combined business. Two said Walmart would be the biggest shareholder, with a stake of around 40 percent.
The Qatar Investment Authority, which has tried to buy Sainsbury’s in the past, is currently the supermarket group’s biggest shareholder with a 22 percent stake. The deal would probably dilute that holding.
Sainsbury’s invited media and analysts to presentations scheduled for Monday, indicating a done