United Kingdom

Self-made petrol station tycoons in £6.5bn bid for Asda

Two self-made billionaire brothers from the North of England have stunned the City by moving into pole position to buy Asda. 

Mohsin Issa, 49, and his brother Zuber, 48, built up their company EG Group from a single garage in Bury, bought for £150,000 in 2001, to a £9billion giant with 5,400 outlets and 35,000 staff. 

Yesterday it emerged the duo, whose family came to the UK in the 1960s 'with nothing', have been chosen as the preferred bidder in the battle to buy Asda, which would return the supermarket to British ownership.

Any deal is expected to value the supermarket at around £6.5billion. The decision has confounded the City who believed owners, US grocer Walmart, was ready to sign a deal with Apollo Global Management, which was headed up by former Debenhams boss Rob Templeman. 

Preferred bidder: Any deal is expected to value the supermarket at around £6.5billion

Last week Lone Star Funds, which was working with former Asda executive Paul Mason, dropped out – seemingly leaving Apollo with a clear run. 

It is thought Walmart was wooed by the Issas' entrepreneurial flair and the potential to put Asda convenience stores in EG's petrol stations. 

Walmart is looking to sell most of its stake in Asda to focus on defending its position in the US against Amazon and pursue opportunities in higher growth markets, such as India. The Issas are backed by private-equity firm TDR Capital, which has owned half of EG Group since 2016, and a series of lenders including Barclays and Lloyds. 

Their selection as the preferred bidder for Asda was first reported by Sky News. 

Shore Capital's Clive Black said the proposed deal put 'raw entrepreneurship and ambition in the driving seat'.

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