// US retail giant Walmart offloads Asda’s £4bn pension liabilities
// The deal with Rothesay Life makes way for a stock market flotation
Asda has revealed that its parent company Walmart has signed a deal to offload nearly £4 billion worth of pension liabilities to make way for a stock market flotation.
Walmart and Asda’s pension trustees have agreed a £3.8bn pension buy-in with insurance company Rothesay Life, Sky News reported.
Rothesay Life manages more than £50 billion in assets.
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The deal is expected to be announced by the end of today.
It means Rothesay Life will become responsible for paying retirement benefits to around 12,000 members of the Asda Group Pension Scheme.
The agreement will remove one of the major financial uncertainties on Asda’s balance sheet amid speculation that it is gathering investors to bring the Big 4 grocer on the stock market in London.
Meanwhile, Asda’s chief executive Roger Burnley said Walmart was “minded” to pursue an initial public offering earlier this year.
Sky News also reported that a private equity-led takeover of Asda, which was bought by Walmart in 1999 and employs 150,000 people, is also likely.
The news comes at a time when Asda is hitting back at reports that claim 12,000 staff could lose their jobs amid an ongoing contract dispute.
Asda told Retail Gazette that there was no evidence to support 12,000 figure and that they continue to speak to staff members who have chosen not to sign the new contract.