Walmart confirms it is weighing an IPO for British supermarket Asda

Judith McKenna, named President and CEO of Walmart International
Source: Business Wire
Key Points
  • Walmart and Asda senior leadership addressed the future of the British supermarket arm for the first time since the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority blocked its proposed merger with domestic rival Sainsbury's.

Walmart has confirmed it is considering an IPO for British supermarket arm Asda, after its proposed merger with domestic rival Sainsbury's was blocked by the U.K. regulator last month.

Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna told Asda staff at its mid-year meeting Tuesday in Leeds, northern England, that the world's largest retailer did "not have a one size fits all approach to operating its international markets."

However, she added: "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."

In the first discussions of Asda's future since the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority torpedoed the proposed merger with Sainsbury's in April, McKenna suggested that preparations for the IPO would "take years."

Asda CEO Roger Burnley told staff to "forget the language of Plan A and Plan B," adding that Asda's one clear strategy "requires momentum in the short term, growth in the medium-term and sustainability in the long term."

Pointing to Asda's seven successive quarters of growth in a difficult trading environment, Burnley told the meeting that the supermarket's strategy was working, but acknowledged market trends are changing faster-than-expected.

Burnley also confirmed Asda would "accelerate our price position," briefing staff on plans to invest £80 million ($103.3 million) in the price throughout the rest of 2019.

Walmart stock closed Tuesday's session up 0.4% at $100.29 a share, and has risen 7.67% in the year to date.