According to the BBC Walmart chief executive Judith McKenna told staff at an event in Leeds yesterday that a public listing is being considered, however she added that the process “could take years”.
McKenna said: “While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO – a public listing – to strengthen your long-term success.”
It was reported last week that Walmart was also considering a potential sale of the supermarket chain with multiple private equity firms interested, however it is now believed that a potential float is the US giant’s preferred option.
The news comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the Sainsbury’s-Asda merger after finding it would lead to “increased prices in stores, online and at many petrol stations across the UK”.
The merger was said to be worth around £12bn and would have seen the grocer’s leapfrog Tesco as the country’s largest supermarket. Walmart would have kept a 42% stake in the enlarged Sainbury’s-Asda business if it had gone ahead.
The remarks by McKenna are the first time that Walmart has acknowledged the future surrounding its UK operations since the CMA blocked the deal.