Retail veterans head rival offers for Asda in £6.5bn bidding war
TWO retail veterans are poised to do battle for Asda as a £6.5bn bidding war hots up.
Former Debenhams boss Rob Templeman is squaring off against previous Asda chief executive Paul Mason in a race to buy the supermarket from its US owner Walmart, according to Sky News. Mr Templeman has been lined up to oversee an offer from private equity company Apollo Global Management, while rival bidder Lone Star Funds has brought in Mr Mason to take charge of its bid.
It comes as Walmart restarts talks with possible buyers after it put discussions on pause when coronavirus hit. The sale process was launched following a failed effort to merge with Sainsbury’s last year.
Mr Templeman has a long-standing relationship with Apollo and worked with the firm during its ownership of bookmaker Gala Coral. He previously ran Halfords and Homebase, and held the top job at Debenhams until 2014.
Mr Mason was at the helm of Asda until 2001. He then served as chief executive of Somerfield, and was also chairman of retailers Cath Kidston, Matalan, New Look and more recently Dr Martens.
Walmart has owned Asda since 1999 when it took over the chain in a £6.7bn deal. The company wants to offload its British operations to focus on more lucrative markets such as India, where it recently spent $16bn (£13bn) to take control of online marketplace Flipkart.
Its plan to merge Asda with Sainsbury’s would have left Walmart with 42pc of the combined business, but the proposal was thwarted by the competition watchdog in a ruling that all but ended hopes of further grocery megadeals.
Walmart is likely to keep a minority stake if a private equity sale goes ahead, allowing it to share in the profits from any future stock market float.
This week, Walmart said that Asda would focus on expanding its online capacity as it continued to lose market share to rivals.
The Asda auction is likely to conclude before the end of the year. TDR Capital, another private equity firm, is also said to be considering a bid.