Asda's US owner has confirmed it is in early stage discussions about the potential sale of a controlling stake in the UK supermarket.
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, said on Wednesday that following "inbound interest" it was in talks with a small number of interested parties regarding an opportunity to invest in its British supermarket arm, alongside itself.
It said no decisions have yet been made on any third party investment.
Last year Walmart said it was considering a future stock market listing for Asda after its attempt to merge with UK rival Sainsbury's was blocked by regulators.
After a lengthy battle with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the £12billion takeover was blocked – with future talks for a merger also banned for 10 more years.
The CMA investigation raised "extensive concerns" over the multi-billion-pound takeover, which it warned would lead to higher prices on food and fuel and a poorer overall shopping experience for customers.
However, both Sainsbury's and Asda disputed the claims, stating 125 and 150 supermarkets would be sold off on the back of the takeover to maintain competition with industry rivals.
Bosses also claimed that if given the go-ahead, they would reduce prices by around 10% on everyday items.
The rules will be bound until July 9, 2029, unless the parties receive the "prior written consent of the CMA".
On Wednesday, Walmart said it firmly believes that an IPO is an attractive long-term objective for Asda.
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