Tesco considers sale of Thai, Malaysia supermarket businesses

DUBAI: Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco Plc, is considering the sale of its supermarket businesses in Thailand and Malaysia.

The company is carrying out a strategic review of the businesses after receiving what it called inbound interest, according to a statement on Sunday.

The deal could value the operations at as much as US$9 billion, Dow Jones reported earlier, citing people familiar with the plan. Tesco spokesman Simon Rew declined to comment on the valuation.

"The evaluation of strategic options is at an early stage, no decisions concerning the future of Tesco Thailand or Malaysia have been taken,” the statement said, adding that the process could end without a transaction being concluded.

Tesco Thailand launched in 1998 and has 1,967 stores. The Malaysian business started in 2002 and has 74 stores. The Thai business alone could be valued at nearly US$7 billion because it includes real estate assets, Dow Jones reported. In the first half of fiscal-year 2020, the retailer’s entire Asia business produced 2.6 billion pounds (US$3.4 billion) of revenue, accounting for about 8% of total sales.

Under outgoing Chief Executive Officer Dave Lewis Tesco streamlined its domestic business with thousands of job cuts and pulled back from some international markets.

Ken Murphy, who will replace Lewis, was known for spearheading Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.’s push into China. Murphy will have to wrestle with a growing U.K. retail crisis exacerbated by Brexit, the shift to online shopping and competition from discounters Lidl and Aldi. - Bloomberg

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