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Tesco Asia sell-off ruled out

Tesco has ruled out selling any more of its Asian operations in the wake of the Homeplus South Korea divestment.

At least for now.

After the US$6 billion sale of Homeplus and an earlier divestment of a stake in its Chinese operation, Tesco Asia retains a large business in Thailand, trading as Tesco Lotus, and in Malaysia.

Tesco Chairman John Allan has assured shareholders there are “no immediate plans” to sell off any of the company’s remaining overseas arms, including those in Asia.

“As we sit here today we believe that we have the right sort of assembly of geographies that we are in,” said Allan.

“At the moment our intention is to hold what we have and to develop it and make the very best of it.”

When Tesco’s troubles came to light at the end of last year the company received several opportunistic approaches by parties to buy out the Thai and Malaysian operations. But it ruled out any fire sale at the time and now appears committed to retaining and growing the businesses. The company also has operations in Central Europe and Ireland.

While Allan conceded he could “envisage circumstances” the company might change its mind, that comment was perceived as a safeguard.

Selling Homeplus has allowed Tesco to retire about £4.2 billion of its massive £21.7 billion debt mountain.

The company is still looking for a buyer for its Dunnhumby data business, nine months after it ut the business on the market. Dunnhumby analyses grocery sales data from across the store network and sells it to manufacturers.

“We have looked at the options around Dunnhumby… We’ve not concluded that. As soon as we conclude it we would announce what it is we intend to do,” CEO Dave Lewis told shareholders.

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