Walmart sells majority stake in Japanese Seiyu supermarket

TOKYO (AP) – United States (US) retailer Walmart is selling off 85 per cent of its wholly owned Japanese supermarket subsidiary Seiyu, while retaining a 15 per cent stake, in a deal valued at JPY172.5 billion (USD1.6 billion), the companies said yesterday.

KKR & Co, a global investment firm, will purchase a 65 per cent stake, while Japanese online retailer Rakuten will acquire a 20 per cent stake from Walmart, they said in a statement.

KKR and Rakuten will bring their expertise in e-commerce and global digital marketing to strengthen Seiyu in the increasingly digital shopping age, according to the statement. Seiyu Chief Lionel Desclee will continue to lead in the transition period, after which he will take on a new role at Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer.

A board will be set up, made up representatives from KKR, Rakuten and Walmart, and a new CEO appointed, the companies said. The transaction, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, which also runs stores in Europe and other parts of Asia, entered the Japanese market with its purchase of a small stake in Seiyu in 2002, promising to bring its “every day low price” to Japan. Seiyu became Walmart’s group company in 2008.

Company signs of Walmart and Seiyu in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP