Walmart (WMT – Get Report) is considering an initial public offering for its U.K. grocery subsidiary Asda, a listing that that could value the company at as much as an estimated 8.5 billion pounds ($11 billion), Bloomberg reported.
The news comes just weeks after U.K. antitrust regulators blocked a planned merger between Asda, Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket, and rival J Sainsbury.
“While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO,” Judith McKenna, the company’s international chief, told employees at an event in Leeds, according to a summary of the event provided by Asda.
Any preparations for going public would “take years,” McKenna said, Bloomberg reported.
Walmart, the world’s No. 1 retailer, also could revisit a sale of Asda, though interest from private-equity firms has been lukewarm, people familiar with the situation told Bloomberg last month. Walmart will take time to analyze its strategy for Asda and could opt to keep the business, one of the people said.
Walmart is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings on Thursday, with analysts surveyed by FactSet expecting earnings of $1.02 a share on revenue of $125.2 billion.
“The company is, in our view, on track to deliver on its 2019 targets, and we believe the model is supportive of higher core operating profit as digital, grocery, and labor investments start paying dividends through more profitable growth,” Deutsche bank analyst Paul Trussell said. “We continue to like WMT as the retailer is poised to start seeing returns on the many years of investment in eCommerce, supply chain, and customer service, and we believe is now in position to accelerate market share gains in grocery while also growing core EBIT dollars.”
Walmart announced Tuesday that it would launch a free, next-day delivery service in a challenge to its online rival Amazon.com (AMZN – Get Report) .
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