There is a possibility that the ownership group of the financially burdened supermarket Asda may undergo another change as it has been reported that one of the billionaire Issa brothers is considering selling his share in the company.
Zuber Issa, who is 51 years old, currently holds a 22.5% stake in the grocery store following a £6.8 billion acquisition with his brother Mohsin and private equity firm TDR Capital three years ago.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, he is reportedly in talks to divest his shares and shift his attention to EG Group’s petrol forecourt business.
It is believed that any efforts to sell his shares in Asda may be hindered by contractual agreements with Mohsin and TDR, which would require the consent of all involved parties for a transaction to take place.
In 2001, Zuber established EG and later brought his brother on board. Together, they grew the company to encompass approximately 6,000 forecourts in 10 different countries.
Their achievements have elevated them to the status of business icons in their hometown of Blackburn, where they have been honored with a road named after them, following in the footsteps of former Blackburn Rovers and England striker Alan Shearer.
The brothers have faced criticism for building five identical mansions on a hill, offering scenic views of Bowland Fells. These homes have been dubbed the “Five Ugly Sisters” by the community.
The potential sale of Asda shares has been revealed during a potentially tumultuous time in the brothers’ partnership.
Mohsin’s divorce is reported to have caused a lot of surprise and concern within the family. The brothers have been unable to avoid answering questions about how they finance their business empire, known for its use of debt to make deals at EG.
The Issas contributed £100 million in cash to the initial Asda deal, which was also matched by an additional £100 million from TDR Capital. The rest of the buyout was financed through the largest corporate bond sale in sterling history, as reported by Bloomberg. A loan from the parent company of EG Group also played a role in funding the transaction.
In October, Asda made a decision that seemed to further merge the two businesses by acquiring EG Group’s UK branch for a total of £2 billion.
The chairman of the supermarket group, Stuart Rose, stated that the purchase would establish a strong advocate for consumers and would strive to be a top competitor in fuel prices as well as the lowest-priced of the UK’s four major supermarkets for groceries.
However, the transaction was supported by an extra £770 million in loans and £450 million in fresh capital from the Issa brothers and their private equity partner, TDR Capital.
The Guardian reached out to the Issa brothers, but they have not provided a statement.