When India-origin brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa successfully bid for the British grocery company Asda, they pulled off an acquisition bigger than the Tatas.
Walmart Inc., the American retail behemoth that owns ASDA, said on Friday that the Issas’ EG Group and TDR Capital, a private equity firm, have agreed to buy the supermarket for £6.8 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, the Issa brothers and TDR Capital would own a majority of asda total package, while Walmart, which bought the company for £7 billion in 1999 (while the Issas were working in their Gujarati parents’ fuel station on the outskirts of Manchester), will own a minority stake. On a trial basis, Asda has been retailing in three of EG’s forecourts. This experiment will now be replicated across a large number of EG outlets.
In 2007, the Tatas purchased Corus Steel, formerly British Steel, for £4.3 billion and Jaguar Land Rover for £1.15 billion in a major entrance into the British market.
“We are very delighted to be investing in Asda, an iconic British brand that we have respected for many years,” said Mohsin and Zuber Issa, whose parents migrated from India to the UK in the 1960s. Asda’s performance during the Covid-19 outbreak has shown the company’s underlying strength and resilience.”
The brothers from Blackburn emphasized their practical experience. “We’ve been on the pumps, stocking the shelves, cleaning the toilets,” they said in a recent interview. In the United Kingdom, EG owns the forecourts and sells petrol under the BP and Shell brands. It has 396 fueling stations, accounting for 5% of the market.
“We are delighted to be able to announce this deal today, which we believe creates the right ownership structure for Asda, building on its 71-year-heritage, while bringing a new entrepreneurial flair, not only to Asda, but also to UK retailing,” said Judith McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International.
The Lancashire entrepreneurs grew a tiny family firm into an empire with nearly 6,000 forecourts in ten countries, 44,000 employees, and yearly revenues of €20 billion. They beat out competition from another private equity firm, Apollo, with the help of TDR, which controls 50% of EG Group.
“Asda is a robust and well-managed firm with one of the leading names in UK retail,” said Gary Lindsay of TDR Capital. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Mohsin and Zuber, who turned EG Group into a global convenience retailer and will now apply their expertise to Asda.”
Euro Garages was founded in 2001 when Mohsin, 49, and Zuber, 48, took over their first petrol station in Bury, Lancashire. They partnered with leading foodservice brands such as Starbucks, Burger King, Greggs, Subway, and KFC to operate concessions in their larger forecourt formats, and non-fuel convenience retail sales swiftly outpaced fuel sales. They emerged as key players in independent forecourt retail by 2015, following a series of transactions with ExxonMobil and Shell.