Asda owner Walmart has reportedly struck a deal to offload £3.8bn worth of pension liabilities as it eyes a potential IPO.
According to Sky News, Walmart and Asda’s pension trustees have agreed a deal with specialist insurer of corporate retirement schemes Rothesay Life. The move will see the company take on the responsibility of paying retirement benefits for around 12,000 members of its Asda Group Pension Scheme.
According to a source cited by Sky the step removes one of the final hurdles preventing it from making a seperate listing of the business on the London Stock exchange. The report also suggest Asda would make a one-off payment into the scheme of just under £1bn, with a full buyout set as a longer-term objective.
The news comes after Walmart chief executive Judith McKenna told staff at an event in Leeds earlier this year that a public listing is being considered, however she said that the process “could take years”.
The move comes after a rollercoaster year for the company which saw the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the planned 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.
Retail Sector has contacted Asda for comment.