Walmart may sell a majority stake in the UK retailer Asda, reports The Guardian.
The U.S. retailer says that a decision is yet to be made but that it is "committed to ensuring that Asda has the resources and support it needs" to push forward its strategy.
Walmart also said that it is talking to a "small number of interested parties" about investing in Asda. This means that the supermarket chain would retain a minority stake in the Asda business. This follows UK regulators blocking the U.S. retailer from merging Asda with Sainsbury last April - the government saying that it restricted choice for consumers and would push up prices.
"Following inbound interest Walmart and Asda can confirm that we are currently considering whether there is an opportunity for a third party to invest in Asda, alongside Walmart, in order to support and accelerate the delivery of Asda’s strategy and position Asda for long-term success,” commented Walmart.
Such a move is considered a strategic step in the grocery giant's ongoing expansion of international operations.
Chief executive of Walmart's international businesses Judith McKenna told Asda that Walmart was "seriously considering" a stock market flotation for Asda in May. Walmart acquired a majority stake in Asda in 1999 and Asda currently has more than 600 stores across the UK. During meetings for this decision, Walmart explained that stock market flotation remains an alternative option.