Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Private equity firms eye £7bn takeover of George clothing owner Asda

We may be in one of the worst environments for retail ever, but supermarkets seem to be thriving and against this backdrop, Asda appears to have attracted plenty of interest from possible buyers.

The Walmart-owned company, which found itself out on a limb when its planned merger with Sainsbury's was scorched by the competition authorities, is up for sale and is reported to have attracted several private equity bidders.

Bloomberg reported that the company, which is a major fashion retailer through its George clothing range (and is also a big beauty retailer), could attract a value of more than £7 billion.

It said there has been interested in a second round of bidding from Apollo Global Management, TDR Capital and Lone Star Funds. TDR has reportedly linked up with one of its portfolio companies, EG Group, founded and still led by billionaire entrepreneurs Zuber and Mohsin Issa, for its bid. 

Walmart has already said that the auction process will continue, despite concerns that the economic backdrop means the availability of credit could dampen merger and acquisition activity. Some potential buyers were reportedly concerned that their access to affordable financing could be impacted by the coronavirus. 

It all means that a high level of uncertainty is still being seen around the whole process and this could mean that Walmart decides to keep the company on for longer if it can't get the price it wants. For now, that shouldn't be a huge problem as Asda sales are likely to have been surging in recent weeks due to panic-buying.

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