The sale of Tesco’s data unit is no longer a matter of life and death after the supermarket giant confirmed it is offloading its South Korean business, HomePlus, in deal worth £3.35bn to the company.
A consortium of buyers led by Asian private equity firm MBK Partners will now take over the running of the business, with the proceeds being used to pay down the embattled supermarket’s £6.4bn debt.
Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said the sale “realises material value for shareholders and allows us to make significant progress on our strategic priority of protecting and strengthening our balance sheet”.
He added: “I would like to thank all of our Homeplus colleagues for their dedication, professionalism and service to our customers, which has resulted in the creation of a great business. I am confident that the agreement we have reached with MBK Partners presents an exciting opportunity for their continued success.”
The Asian deal appears in stark contrast to the negotiations to offload DunnHumby. Tesco had originally hoped to claw in as much as £2bn but bids are understood to have fallen to around £700m following the end of a lucrative deal with US retail giant Kroger, as well as Tesco’s decision to make the winning bidder repitch for the Clubcard account within five years.
At one point, there was speculation that the deal had collapsed entirely.
Since then, Tesco has tried to shore up the value by agreeing a joint venture with one of China’s largest supermarket chains, China Resources Vanguard, although whether that will be enough to push the price much higher – or simply keep potential suitors interested – remains to be seen.
Final bids are understood to have gone in late last week.
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