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Asda has reportedly engaged a corporate headhunter to find a new finance chief to spearhead a float of the Walmart-owned supermarket chain.

The Times reports that the Leeds-based chain is working with executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles “to find a heavyweight who could help lead the listing”.

Rob McWilliam took over the CFO role from Alex Russo in August 2018 on a fixed term contract, which runs until the end of 2020

Walmart international president Judith McKenna has previously said Walmart is “seriously considering” a float for Asda after its multi-billion merger with rival Sainsbury’s was blocked by UK competition watchdog the CMA.

McKenna told 1,200 Asda managers at a meeting at its Leeds HQ in May it was considering a stock market listing, although she added it “could take years”.

“While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO - a public listing - to strengthen your long-term success,” she said.

Morning update

European Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC (CCH) and the Coca-Cola Company (KO) have agreed to create a new joint venture in Russia.

The 50:50 partnership will be formed from their combined assets in the Multon Z.A.O group of companies, an existing joint operation which produces and distributes juices in Russia.

There is no consideration being paid or received by Coca-Cola HBC as this transaction is a contribution of business assets in exchange for the establishment of an arrangement preserving the respective existing business and commercial interests of the parties.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up a further 1.6% to 7,470.8pts to build on Friday’s gains.

Early risers include British American Tobacco (BAT), up 3.1% to 3,133.5p, Marks & Spencer (MKS), up 2% to 228.1p and Tesco (TSCO), up 1.6% to 255.2p.

Fallers include Kerry Group (KYGA), down 4.1% to €108.40, PZ Cussons (PZC), down 2.5% to 191.6p and Glanbia (GLB), down 1.6% to €9.75.

This week in the City

There is a vital week ahead for the grocery trade as we run-up to Christmas, but life is altogether quieter in the City in the coming days.

There are no company announcements of note scheduled this week for the grocery sector in the UK as the markets wind down for Christmas following last Thursday’s general election.

On Wednesday there is a WH Smith (SMWH) shareholder meeting to vote on the approval of WH Smith’s $400m deal to buy US travel retailer Marshall Retail Group.

Monthly UK inflation figures will be released on Wednesday.

The official monthly ONS Retail Sales figures for November are out on Thursday, along with the Bank of England’s decision on interest rates.

Friday brings the December GFK Consumer Confidence survey results.

In the US, US food giant General Mills will release its interim 2020 earnings.