Walmart is selling its majority stake in Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu.
Under the terms of the $1.6 billion deal, announced in the U.S. on Nov. 15, global investment firm KKR will acquire a 65% stake in Seiyu. A new subsidiary of Tokyo-based e-commerce specialist Rakuten will acquire a 20% Seiyu stake. Walmart will hold on to a 15% stake in the company.
The move follows Walmart's announcement last week that had agreed to sell its Argentina operations to retail investor Grupo de Narvaez. Walmart, which has operated in Argentina since 1995, will not retain a minority stake as part of the Narvaez deal.
Walmart, KKR and Rakuten stated in a jointly issued news release about the Japan deal that the move will allow for accelerated investment in digital initiatives for Seiyu. The release added that KKR’s "deep expertise in the Japan market" will help it leverage "sector and operational expertise to enhance Seiyu's retail transformation." The new Rakuten subsidiary focuses specifically on digital transformation initiatives for retailers.
Current Seiyu CEO Lionel Desclee will lead the ownership transition before taking on a new role within Walmart, the companies stated. The deal is expected to close in first-quarter 2021, at which time a new CEO for Seiyu is expected to be appointed.