Mergers & Acquisitions

EG Group’s Founders Acquire Asda, Walmart’s U.K. Business

Issa brothers promise to bring global convenience-channel strategy to mass retailer
Photograph courtesy of Walmart

BLACKBURN, U.K., and BENTONVILLE, Ark. — In a deal expected to benefit from their convenience-store operating acumen, Moshin and Zuber Issa, the founders and co-CEOs of global c-store company EG Group, and investment funds managed by private-equity firm TDR Capital LLP, have agreed to acquire Asda, Walmart’s wholly owned U.K. retail business, for an enterprise value of $8.8 billion.

Asda is the second largest U.K. grocer after Tesco.

Founded in 2001 by the Issa family, Blackburn, U.K.-based EG Group is a major gasoline forecourt retail convenience operator that has established partnerships with global brands. It has approximately 5,200 sites in Europe, the United States and Australia. It acquired Cumberland Farms and its nearly 660 c-stores in the Northeast and Florida in 2019.

In 2018, EG Group acquired Kroger’s 762-site c-store network. Also in 2018, it acquired 225 Minit Mart c-stores from TravelCenters of America LLC, Westlake, Ohio. In 2019, EG Group also signed agreements to acquire 54 c-stores from Fastrac Markets LLC, East Syracuse, N.Y., and 69 c-stores from Certified Oil, Columbus, Ohio.

The Issa brothers and TDR Capital are acquiring a majority ownership stake in Asda on a debt-free and cash-free basis. Walmart will retain an equity investment in the business, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board.

The new owners will support and accelerate Asda’s existing strategy, they said, which is based on delivering low prices and convenience to customers however they want to shop. Asda will continue to invest in accelerating its omnichannel offer and in the resilience of its supply chain, they said.

Asda will remain headquartered in Leeds, U.K. CEO Roger Burnley will continue to lead the business.

The Issa brothers also will bring significant additional expertise, particularly in convenience retail and brand partnerships, drawing on their experience of building a global convenience retailer with more than 6,000 sites.

They will support Asda in developing a “compelling” convenience retail proposition and taking it to market, and to advise on the development of strategic brand partnerships that will better enable Asda to address multiple consumer missions, they said. The Asda leadership team and the company’s new ownership will be focused on building a competitive, differentiated operating model with long-term growth, they said.

“We are very proud to be investing in Asda, an iconic British business that we have admired for many years,” Mohsin and Zuber Issa said in a statement. “Asda’s customer-centric philosophy, focus on operational excellence and commitment to the communities in which it operates are the same values that we have built EG Group on. Asda’s performance through the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental strength and resilience of the business, and we are excited to support Roger and his team as they continue to reposition the business to drive long-term growth. We believe that our experience with EG Group, including our expertise around convenience and brand partnerships and our successful partnership with TDR Capital, can help to accelerate and execute that growth strategy.”

Gary Lindsay of TDR Capital said, “Asda is a strong and well-managed business with one of the leading brands in U.K. retail. We are proud to be investing alongside Mohsin and Zuber, who have built EG Group into a global convenience retailer and will now bring that experience to bear at Asda. We look forward to supporting them, and Roger Burnley and the management team at Asda, to build on the business’s inherent strengths and drive long-term sustainable growth.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, and the companies said they expected to complete the transaction in the first half of 2021.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc., with fiscal year 2020 revenue of $524 billion, has approximately 11,500 stores under 56 banners in 27 countries, as well as online.

Asda has a multi-format, omnichannel offering, selling its products through a network of 584 grocery stores, 18 standalone gas stations and 33 Asda Living stores and also online. In addition to grocery and general merchandise, Asda also operates George, a leading U.K. clothing retailer.

TDR Capital invests in U.K. and European consumer-facing businesses and partners with them to develop and grow their operations. TDR was also reportedly a bidder, alone or together with EG Group or Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., to acquire Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway c-store network. Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. agreed to acquire Speedway in August for $21 billion.

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