Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the founders and co-CEOs of forecourt giant EG Group, along with private equity firm TDR Capital, have bought a majority stake in Asda from Walmart for £6.8bn.
The billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber emerged as the surprise frontrunners in the deal this week, ahead of competition from rivals thought to include property giant Lone Star and supermarket property titan Apollo Global Management
It comes after Asda last month announced a partnership to trial a new Asda on the Move concept at at three EG Group petrol station forecourts in the Midlands, offering fresh food and essentials.
Current owner Walmart will keep a minority share in Asda, which will retain its current management under CEO Roger Burnley. The Issa brothers and TDR will take equal shareholdings.
In an announcement this morning, Asda said the deal came with the UK supermarket industry at a crossroads but would also allow continuity and investment from Walmart.
It said low prices and convenience would continue to be the hallmarks of the company.
Today’s announcement stressed the “huge resilience” shown by Burnley and his team during the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time Asda has almost doubled its online operations.
It said the new owners would continue to invest in accelerating its omnichannel offer and in the resilience of its supply chain, including sourcing more food from UK farmers and maintaining its commitment to supporting domestic suppliers and small businesses.
Subject to the deal getting regulatory approval, it is expected to be completed in the first half of next year and will see Asda remain headquartered in Leeds. Roger Burnley will sit on a management board alongside representatives appointed by the Issa brothers, TDR Capital and Walmart.
Asda said the deal would lead to an injection of over £1bn in the next three years so it could continue to offer low prices across its stores and ensure Asda remained a price leader in the supermarket fuel sector.
It said the deal would also increase the proportion of UK-based suppliers and the volume of products – such as chicken, dairy, wheat and potatoes – purchased from UK suppliers.
“We are very proud to be investing in Asda, an iconic British business that we have admired for many years,” said Mohsin and Zuber Issa. “Asda’s customer-centric philosophy, focus on operational excellence and commitment to the communities in which it operates are the same values that we have built EG Group on.
“Asda’s performance through the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental strength and resilience of the business, and we are excited to support Roger and his team as they continue to reposition the business to drive long-term growth.
“We believe that our experience with EG Group, including our expertise around convenience and brand partnerships and our successful partnership with TDR Capital, can help to accelerate and execute that growth strategy. After a successful period as part of Walmart we are looking forward to helping Asda build a differentiated business that will continue to serve customers brilliantly in communities across the UK.”
Gary Lindsay, a partner at TDR Capital, added: “Asda is a strong and well-managed business with one of the leading brands in UK retail. We are proud to be investing alongside Mohsin and Zuber, who have built EG Group into a global convenience retailer and will now bring that experience to bear at Asda.
“We look forward to supporting them, and Roger Burnley and the management team at Asda, to build on the business’s inherent strengths and drive long-term sustainable growth.”
Watch Asda CEO Roger Burnley’s announcement
Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce this deal today, which we believe creates the right ownership structure for Asda, building on its 71-year heritage, whilst bringing a new entrepreneurial flair, not only to Asda, but also to UK retailing.
“I’m delighted that Walmart will retain a significant financial stake, a board seat, and will continue as a strategic partner. Asda has been a powerhouse of innovation for the rest of the Walmart world, and we look forward to continuing to learn from them in the future. This important combination will continue to keep customers and colleagues at Asda’s heart, which is important to us all.”
Burnley added: “This new ownership opens an exciting new chapter in Asda’s long heritage of delivering great value for UK shoppers. With our combined investment, expertise and ambition, Asda, Walmart, the Issa brothers and TDR have an incredible opportunity to accelerate our existing strategy and develop an even more exciting offer for our customers as well as strengthen our business for our colleagues.
“In a constantly changing retailing environment, our new ownership will further enhance our resilience, whilst creating significant, additional opportunities to drive growth. For Asda colleagues, a strong and growing business is important for our long-term future. I want to thank every single one of our people for the incredible work they do serving our communities, and together our focus will remain on building a better Asda for the benefit of all.”