Sainsbury's is buying Asda from Walmart in a $10 billion deal — but an analyst warned it could 'unravel acrimoniously'

  • Sainsbury's is planning to merge with Asda in the UK to create a £13 billion supermarket giant.
  • Walmart has owned Asda since 1999 but the low-priced retailer has been struggling recently.
  • Walmart will own 42% of the combined group, take a $2 billion non-cash loss on the deal.
  • The competition regulator could still scupper the deal.


LONDON — Sainsbury's, the UK's second-biggest supermarket, has reached a deal with Walmart to merge with Asda, the discount UK supermarket owned by the US retail giant.

News of the transaction was broken by Sky News on Saturday and all parties confirmed the deal on Monday.

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Top secrets from America's biggest grocery stores
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Top secrets from America's biggest grocery stores

Competitor coupons at Publix

Did you see a coupon from a competitor instead of Publix? Bring that coupon with you! Publix posts a list of competitors at each store, allowing you to bring in a coupon you saw elsewhere and get that same deal right at Publix.

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Double coupon policy at Wegmans

Speaking of coupons, Wegmans offers a stellar deal with their double coupon policy. If you saw a coupon from a manufacturer that was less than $0.99 in value, Wegmans will not only give you that coupon but will also reward you with another $0.99 off. If the price is above $1, they will still give you the coupon’s face-value deal. Don't miss these 19 shopping tricks all frugal shoppers use.

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Return policy at Trader Joe's

Hated the recent flavor of Joe Joes? Just return them! That’s right, even after trying something, you can actually return it if you found it unbearable. Trader Joe’s will happily take it back and give you a refund.

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Combos Locos deals at H-E-B

Do you get coupons for H-E-B? If not, well, you should. H-E-B offers a coupon deal called Combos Locos where, when buying two items together, you get discounted prices. For example, a deal could include a bag of salad with a free bottle of dressing! Keep an eye out for deals on their website. Here are more sneaky ways to find great deals online.

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Bargain bins at Aldi

Nope, these bargain bins actually aren’t a rip off (like some bargain bins turn out to be). You are going to want to take advantage of the incredible deals at Aldi’s bargain bin because the low prices will actually knock your socks off.

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B1G1 and B2G3 sales at Harris Teeter

Buy-one-get-one deals, or even buy-two-get-three deals, are always a draw for people trying to buy bulk at a grocery store, But what make’s Harris Teeter special is the secret behind those deals. Instead of offering one item full price and another completely free, the items just ring up as half off. So if you only need one pound of meat and don’t have room in your freezer for another, that meat will still ring up as 50 percent off! Plus, try making these healthy food swaps that can actually save you money.

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Fuel Saver + Perks program at Hy-Vee

Loved the fuel saver program through Hy-Vee? Well, their new-and-improved program is going to have you jumping out of your seat. With this new membership, you can save big using digital deals and coupons target specifically for your shopping list, receive surprise savings, and even get the chance to win rewards! Some of those include kitchen makeovers, vacation packages and even a new car.

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The back of the store at Costco

That’s right—the back of the store is where you’re going to find all of the deals. By working your way forward, you are finding the best bang for your buck. Make sure to walk through “center court” (the savings aisles in the center of the store) and to avoid the front at all costs. The front is known as “action alley” and will rarely give you the type of deals that you crave. Check out these money-saving things you can do at Costco without a membership.

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The jobs at WinCo

Not only are WinCo deals even cheaper than Walmart most of the time, they also offer incredible employee benefits. Like being a part-owner of the store, for example. If you work at WinCo for over 500 hours in the first six months and 1,000 hours in a year, you are eligible for the Employee Stock Ownership program. They also offer incredible benefits including retirement savings and insurance.

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The app from Whole Foods

Whole Foods may sit more on the expensive side, but their app can actually help you save those dollar bills. It’s completely free and loaded with coupons and current deals, giving you a leg up on what to grab in the grocery store.

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Free Item Fridays at Fry's and Kroger

Because Fry’s is a Kroger brand, these two offer the same incredible deal every week—free item Fridays! Find out what you can get for free by downloading the coupon the day before heading to the grocery store.

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Meal deals at Winn Dixie

Every week Winn Dixie offers meal deals where they hand you not one, not two, but three items for free. The meal deal typically comes with a specifically chosen entree. Once you get the entree, you can get the chosen sides (typically a carbohydrate, a vegetable, and a dessert) for free.

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Tuesdays at Target

You may not realize it, but most department stores work off a markdown schedule in certain departments each day of the week. Although every store is different, shopping at Target’s Market (the grocery part of the store) is best for savings on Tuesday. However, there is no harm in asking a sales associate when your local Target’s specific markdown schedule is. Here are more sneaky ways to save money at Target.

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Super Coupons at ShopRite

If you still love to get coupons mailed to your home, then you better be digging for those ShopRite super coupons. These coupons will offer you deals you probably couldn’t even dream about and will make your wallet sing songs of praise. You can also check out a lot of their other coupon deals online at their Digital Coupon Center.

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The MVP kiosk at Food Lion

After signing up for the MVP Program at Food Lion, you’ll want to take advantage of their kiosk ASAP. Simply scan your MVP card when you’re in the store to see what deals are going on for that day, and even a set of personalized coupons based on your recent purchases. But be on the lookout for these 32 retail scams that trick you into spending more.

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SimpleNutrition tags at Albertsons

Just like their Everyday Low Prices and Club Card Savings, Albertsons offers deals on their healthy products by using their SimpleNutrition tags. So instead of ignoring those healthier foods because of the prices, scout Albertsons for these tags to save big and eat healthily.

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Free item codes at Meijer

Every now and then, Meijer will post codes on their Facebook and Twitter for mPerk members to get free items. They offer all sorts of items for free, and if you follow them on social media, you’ll always come across some incredible deals. Make sure you memorize the best times to buy cheap finds throughout the year.

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Cash back at Sam's Club

That’s right—they just hand it to you! For every $500 you spend, you get $10 back. That may not seem like a lot, but if you’re a faithful Sam’s Club shopper, that can seriously add up as the year progresses. Don't miss these other surprisingly simple ways to save big at the supermarket.

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SavingStar at Stop & Shop

If you have a Stop & Shop card (or a Giant card, since they are owned by the same company) you can actually earn cash back when using some of the offers. Just click the offers you want to use on the app.

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The price match policy at Walmart

Saw a cheaper price somewhere else? Bring those ads with you to Walmart! You can get the cheaper deal by showing the associate that pricing, who can then walk you through a process to get that same deal right at the store. Wherever you shop, just make sure you avoid these 50 supermarket tricks you still fall for.

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Asda is valued at £7.3 billion ($10 billion) on a debt-free basis in the transaction. Sainsbury's will buy the bulk of shares from Walmart for £2.9 billion ($3.9 billion) and Walmart will receive a 42% share of the combined businesses. Walmart will remain a "strategic partner and long-term shareholder."

Walmart has owned Asda since 1999 when the US retail giant bought it for £6.9 billion ($9.5 billion). Recently Asda has struggled, posting its worst annual results since the takeover last year. Walmart said it expects to take a non-cash loss of $2 billion on the deal, although it cautioned that this figure could "fluctuate significantly due to changes in the fair value of the equity consideration to be received and changes in currency exchange rates."

Sainsbury's shares jumped 15% on Monday morning following news of the deal.

'This deal could easily unravel acrimoniously'

The deal will have to clear the UK's Competition and Market's Authority (CMA) but if approved would create one of the biggest companies in Britain, with a market value of around £13 billion ($17.8 billion) and annual sales of £50 billion ($68.7 billion).

Bruno Monteyne, an analyst with Bernstein, said in a note to clients: "Local competition, within 10 to 15 minutes' drive time, remains the key driver of store disposals. We think the potential gamble will depend on how the CMA treats discounter stores. In the past, they were largely excluded (as being too small and therefore not a comparable one-stop shop).

"57% of Asda stores have a large Sainsbury's store within 12.5 minutes drive time, leading to ~15% of store disposals. If they can convince CMA to include discounters, then it could be ~8%."

He added: "This deal could easily unravel acrimoniously if the CMA sticks to its old rules and parameters. At 13% store disposals, the deal would stop being accretive."

Both the Asda and Sainsbury's brands will be retained. Asda is one of the lowest priced major UK supermarkets and generally targets working-class customers in the North. Sainsbury's targets middle-class customers in the South East.

'A unique and bold opportunity'

Sainsbury's touted cost savings of £500 million ($687.7 million) in synergies but said it will not close stores as a result of the deal. It said the greater scale of the business post-merger would allow it to invest in lowering prices. The supermarket said it expects to lower prices by up to 10%.

Sainsbury's chairman, CEO, and CFO will lead the combined business. Sainsbury's chairman David Taylor said in a statement: "As one of the largest employers in the country, the combined business will become an even greater contributor to the British economy.

"The proposal will bring together two of the most experienced and talented management teams in retail at a time when the industry is undergoing rapid change. We welcome Walmart as a significant shareholder and look forward to working closely with them."

Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna called the deal a "unique and bold opportunity, consistent with our strategy of looking for new ways to drive international growth."

UBS and Morgan Stanley advised Sainsbury's on the deal. Rothschild advised Walmart.

The mega-merger comes amid a frenzy of deal activity in the UK supermarket sector. Last year Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket chain, won CMA approval for its £3.7 billion ($5 billion) merger with wholesaler Booker and Sainsbury's bought catalogue retailer Argos for £1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) in 2016.

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