Britain’s Sainsbury’s and Asda agree 13.3-billion-pound merger

LONDON (Reuters) – Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and Asda, the UK arm of Walmart (WMT.N), confirmed on Monday they had agreed a 13.3 billion pounds ($18.33 billion) merger to create Britain’s biggest supermarket group by market share, surpassing current leader Tesco (TSCO.L).

Till receipts from Asda and Sainsbury’s can be seen in this photo illustration April 28, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration

The combination will result in Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, holding 42 percent of the combined business’ equity and receiving 2.975 billion pounds ($4.1 billion), valuing Asda at about 7.3 billion pounds.

Sainsbury’s had an equity value of 6 billion pounds at Friday’s closing prices.

The enlarged group would be able to better compete against German discounters Aldi and Lidl, both of which have been rapidly growing market share in Britain.

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The deal would generate synergies of at least 500 million pounds, Sainsbury’s said, and enable prices to be lowered by about 10 percent on many products.

Joining together the UK’s second and third-biggest supermarket chains with combined revenues of 51 billion pounds will reduce costs and increase buying power but could face major regulatory hurdles.

The deal would see both the Sainsbury’s and the Asda brands maintained, combining a network of over 2,800 stores.

There are no planned Sainsbury’s or Asda store closures as a result of the combination.

The combined business will be chaired by Sainsbury’s Chairman David Tyler and led by Sainsbury’s Chief Executive Mike Coupe.

Britain’s big four grocers, including No. 4 player Morrisons (MRW.L), are all losing share to Aldi and Lidl and are also having to deal with growing demand for internet grocery shopping and the relentless march of Amazon (AMZN.O).

Sainsbury’s also reported its full-year results on Monday, which showed underlying pre-tax profit grew 1.4 percent in the 12 months to March 10 to 589 million pounds ($811 million), helped by the delivery of synergies from its 2016 takeover of Argos, efficiency savings and improving food margin trends.

($1 = 0.7256 pounds)

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young

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