// Asda owner Walmart is due to pick a preferred bidder amid the sales process
// The US giant will choose between private equity firms Apollo and TDR Capital
// Private equity firm Lone Star dropped out of the race earlier this month
Asda owner Walmart is reportedly close to picking the preferred bidder, as the grocer’s sale process continues.
The board of Walmart is due to choose between private equity firms Apollo and TDR Capital, which have both submitted bids to take a majority stake in the Big 4 grocer, The Sunday Times reported.
Walmart has owned Asda for 21 years, and a deal is expected to value Asda at about £6.5 billion.
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Debenhams’ former chief executive Rob Templeman has been helping Apollo to oversee their bid.
Templeman has previously worked with Apollo during its ownership of Gala Coral, the bookmaker which is now part of GVC Holdings.
Walmart has sought £3.3 billion of debt secured against Asda’s stores, 75 per cent of which are freehold, and a further £500 million secured against its properties.
Apollo plans to float Asda in three to five years’ time.
Meanwhile, TDR is bidding in partnership with the billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, owners of the EG petrol station group.
Earlier this month, private equity bidder Lone Star dropped out of the race after failing to agree on the potential cost of a long-running equal pay dispute brought by Asda’s mostly female checkout staff.
Lone Star had submitted bids through to value the business of around £6.5 billion.
Following a failed merger with fellow grocer Sainsbury’s, Walmart was forced to put Asda back on the market.
Walmart is expected to maintain a minority stake in Asda after the sale is completed.