The billionaire Issa brothers have agreed to sell EG Group’s UK and Ireland petrol and forecourt operations to Asda in a £2.3 billion deal that will add £770m in new loans on to the business empire’s already heavy debts (The Times £). Asda is poised to acquire 350 petrol forecourts and 1,000 takeaways in the UK and Ireland from its sister business EG Group, helping the retailer in its ambition of overtaking Sainsbury’s to become Britain’s second biggest grocer (The Guardian).
Asda is lumbering under the weight of a £6bn debt pile and the supermarket’s £2.3bn petrol station deal with EG Group – another business owned by Moshin Issa and his brother Zuber – has seen the supermarket loaded up with yet more debt. (The Telegraph £)
The chair of Asda has rejected suggestions that a £2.3bn deal to buy parts of sister business EG Group was driven by financial engineering, promising that the combination of the supermarket chain and petrol station group will create a new “retail champion” in the UK (Financial Times £).
Regulators plan to probe Asda’s £2.3bn deal for a petrol station operator amid fears it could push up fuel prices. (Daily Mail)
The deal looks less attractive for Asda, writes The Times. To fund the deal, Asda is borrowing £770m through the loan market and selling £1.1bn of property and leasing it back, “adding new financial liabilities on to the business and saddling the supermarkets chain with rent payments that make it less nimble in the competitive British market”. (The Times £)
Alex Brummer in The Mail writes: “What is certain is what may be good for the owners and their private equity backers TDR Capital may not necessarily be as good for consumers… The latest deal may calm the nerves of those holding EG and Asda debt. But it is unlikely to put a misfiring enterprise back in the fast lane.” (Daily Mail)
One of Britain’s best-known retail leaders, Asda chair Lord Rose, has criticised “clumsy” government plans to impose 1970s-style price caps on food staples to cut the cost of living (The Times £). The Asda chairman has warned of “unintended consequences” if the government asks supermarkets to impose price caps on basic food (BBC).
Under-pressure government looks at food price cap to bring down rising costs. Targeted help, such as increased welfare payments, and a VAT cut are among measures the government could consider introducing to tackle soaring food inflation. (Sky News)
The Guardian writes: “By seeming to lean on food retailers, ministers can look tough while not actually doing anything. Then, if as expected, food price inflation starts to fall, they can claim the credit. If, on the other hand, food price inflation remains stubbornly high, they can blame the supermarkets.” (The Guardian)
Unilever’s finance boss is leaving next year amid a shake-up ahead of the arrival of Hein Schumacher as chief executive. (The Daily Mail)
The chief financial officers of both Nestlé and Unilever are stepping down, with the finance chief of the London Stock Exchange Group lined up to join the Swiss foods group as its new finance boss. (The Times £).
Ocado is facing demotion from the FTSE 100 index this week following a slump in its share price. (The Daily Mail)
Diners have become “fatigued” with low-quality vegan products, the chief executive of a British plant-based burger chain has said. (The Telegraph £)
Vegan fast-food chain Neat Burger has boosted its valuation to $100mn in a new funding round aimed at fuelling a US expansion, despite waning appetite for plant-based food among consumers and investors. (The Financial Times £)
Advertisements for the brand Litty Liquor featuring the rapper ArrDee have been banned for featuring the musician, who is under 25, and encouraging excessive and irresponsible drinking. (Sky News)