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Walmart International CEO Says It’s Moving On After a Major U.K. Setback

May 14, 2019, 10:16 AM UTC

That was then, this is now.

That’s the attitude Walmart International CEO Judith McKenna is adopting for the company’s British grocery business Asda just weeks after U.K. regulators blocked Sainsbury’s proposed $9.5 billion (7.3 billion pounds) takeover of Asda, a major setback for both chains.

“Life moves on fast, and that’s really what it’s all about for us now,” McKenna said at the World Retail Congress in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

The companies had argued that the deal would lower prices for its customers, but the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) felt otherwise, saying the transaction would have led to a substantial reduction of competition at both a national and local level, resulting in higher prices in stores, online, and at fuel service stations.

The proposed deal was aimed at helping Sainsbury’s better take on Tesco, and it was a way for Walmart to reduce its exposure to the U.K. as McKenna focuses her Walmart division on promising international markets like India and China. Walmart International operates in 26 countries and last year reported revenue of $120.8 billion.

“That was a bold move. We genuinely believed that creating this combination from a unique, one-off opportunity would have allowed us to accelerate lowering prices for all our customers,” said McKenna, who took over Walmart International in 2018 and is currently ranked No. 14 on Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women list.

Now that the deal is dead, Asda will focus on making “sure it has resources going forward to make sure it’s successful,” McKenna said. And there is reason to believe the business can thrive: Reuters reported recently that Asda has had seven consecutive quarters of growth and leapfrogged Sainsbury’s in April to become the second-biggest U.K. supermarket operator behind Tesco, according to data from Kantar.

As for the benefits of a deal as recently as last month, McKenna said, “that was then.”

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