Walmart restarts talks on possible sale of Asda stake


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LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - Walmart WMT.N, the world's biggest retailer, has restarted talks with potential buyers of a stake in its British supermarket arm Asda, a Walmart spokesman said on Monday.

The talks had been put on hold in April so management could focus on dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Walmart and Asda have restarted conversations with a small number of third-party investors who are interested in acquiring a stake in Asda and partnering with Walmart, following renewed inbound interest," the spokesman said.

After Asda's attempt to combine with UK rival Sainsbury's SBRY.L was blocked by the competition regulator last year, Walmart said it was considering a stock market listing for Asda. Then in February, Walmart said it was in talks with possible buyers of a majority stake in the group.

Those talks progressed until the coronavirus hit.

"We believe now is the right time to explore options for a third party to invest in our business to accelerate the long-term delivery of our value strategy, both in stores and online," the Walmart spokesman said.

He added that the pandemic had demonstrated Asda's resilience and the key role it plays in supporting communities in Britain.

In May, Asda CEO Roger Burnley told Reuters he did not think the crisis had diminished third-party interest in the business.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Estelle Shirbon and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)


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