Walmart paid itself a £1.1bn Asda dividend weeks before UK lockdown

Asda has said that former owner Walmart paid itself a £1.15 billion dividend from the supermarket chain, just weeks before the coronavirus pandemic struck the UK.

The payout was confirmed in the grocer’s filed accounts for the 2019 financial year.

Walmart sold the supermarket chain to the billionaire Issa brothers and private equity firm TDR Capital for £6.8 billion in October following a lengthy auction process.

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Asda chief financial officer Rob McWilliam said: “This annual report is a record of the progress we made in investing for customers and advancing delivery of our strategy in 2019.

Asda is set to go back into private ownership.

“During the year, we invested incrementally in our customer offer, delivering lower prices to millions of customers and improving the quality of thousands of own-brand products through use of healthier ingredients and more sustainable packaging.

“Another key milestone was the agreement with Rothesay Life for a buy-in of the Asda Group Pension Scheme.

“This transaction saw Asda make a one-off payment of £1.17 billion into the scheme and secured the benefits of the 12,300 scheme members.”