Walmart confirms it is weighing an IPO for British supermarket Asda

Mike Coupe Sainsbury's chief executive and Martin Scicluna chairman

Mike Coupe Sainsbury's chief executive and Martin Scicluna chairman

Walmart is weighing a new option for its British supermarket division after its proposed merger with Sainsbury's was blocked in April by United Kingdom regulators.

But, she told managers at an event in Leeds - where Asda is based - any listing could "take years".

The recent merger talks between Asda and its domestic U.K. rival Sainsbury were blocked in April this year by the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority.

Walmart, which would have kept a significant stake in the enlarged business, is now understood to be looking at a range of options for Asda's future.

Asda is expected to reveal a further quarter of sales growth on Thursday but Roger Burnley, the chief executive of the retailer, has acknowledged it will be harder to sustain momentum without the Sainsbury's deal.

The remarks by Ms McKenna are the first time that Walmart has spoken about the future of its United Kingdom operations since the CMA blocked the deal. There have been warnings that this could leave staff worse off.

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The U.K. remains one of the most competitive retail markets in the world.

"Walmart does not have a one-size-fits-all approach to operating its worldwide markets, but a consistent focus on strong local businesses powered by Walmart", she added.

Trade union GMB called for assurances for staff and said it had asked for an urgent meeting with Walmart bosses.

Gary Carter, GMB national officer, said: "GMB's tens of thousands of Asda members have had enough uncertainty - they need to know that their futures are safe and secure".

Burnley also confirmed Asda would "accelerate our price position", briefing staff on plans to invest £80 million ($103.3 million) in the price throughout the rest of 2019.

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