American private equity giant KKR is plotting a bid for Walmart’s Asda as talks for its merger with British rival Sainsbury falter on competition concerns, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
KKR is thought to be working with former Asda boss Tony De Nunzio, now a senior adviser to the buyout firm, the report said.
The report, which did not cite its sources, said Asda would have a lower valuation than the £7.3bn in the Sainsbury’s deal because there would not be the same economies of scale.
It cited a source close to Walmart which said it was not in a rush to find a new buyer for Asda.
A spokesman for Asda said the supermarket would not be commenting on speculation.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the preliminary findings of its probe into the deal on Wednesday, concluding that there could be a significant lessening of competition if the deal went ahead.
Stuart McIntosh, chairman of the independent inquiry group carrying out the CMA investigation, said: “We have provisionally found that, should the two merge, shoppers could face higher prices, reduced quality and choice, and a poorer overall shopping experience across the UK.”
Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe vowed to keep fighting for the deal and claimed the CMA has “moved the goalposts”.
The CMA will publish its final report by April 30, having recently extended the original deadline. Asda reported that sales continued to rise in the fourth quarter, last week.