Billionaire Zuber Issa seeks to offload Asda stake in break with brother
Zuber could also seek to sell his stake to the private equity firm, sources said, although TDR would be expected to offer a lower price than an outside investor.
A successful exit by Zuber would mark a partial parting of ways for the Issa brothers. City sources who have worked with them speculated that he could even use the proceeds to buy Mohsin out of EG Group and disentangle their fortunes. TDR is also a major shareholder in EG Group after acquiring a 50pc stake in 2015.
The potential changes come as Mohsin, who serves as chief executive of Asda, embarks on a new phase in his personal life.
On Friday, following a report last week by The Telegraph, he confirmed that he is in a romantic relationship with Victoria Price, a former partner at EY, which was Asda’s auditor until it quit in July last year.
Via lawyers, the pair said Ms Price, who left the accountant around the same time and presented Mohsin and Zuber with EY’s UK Entrepreneur Of The Year award in 2018, never worked on Asda business and was not an audit partner. Mohsin and Ms Price said they were “in a relationship and building a life together” and asked for privacy for themselves and their families.
Zuber’s sale discussions are the latest sign of upheaval at Asda and the wider Issa brothers empire.
The ties between the brothers are deeply woven into their complex corporate structure, as they share directorships across a vast network of companies. Both are on the board of Asda and EG Group, although Mohsin is primarily responsible for running the former In Leeds, while Zuber looks after the latter from Blackburn.
Mohsin’s control over Asda has thrust him uncomfortably into the spotlight over the past year, as the supermarket battles mounting debt pressures and falling market share. The supermarket currently has around £4.2bn of debt, which has led to hundreds of millions of pounds in interest costs.
More loans were taken out by Asda last year to acquire EG Group’s UK arm, which contains 350 petrol forecourts and 1,000 takeaways, employing more than 13,000.
Concerns over Asda’s finances and operations have prompted MPs to call Mohsin for questioning twice in the past year. They inquired why Asda had set up companies offshore in Jersey, which Mohsin denied was for tax purposes.
Asda recently trialled a four-day week to quell a revolt among store managers. This stemmed from claims by union leaders that senior employees were “leaving in their droves” amid cost cuts.
Senior industry sources speculated that TDR, which helped bankroll the takeover of Asda and holds a controlling stake, is looking to bring in a chief executive with more grocery experience to replace Mohsin. He has been at the helm of Asda ever since Roger Burnley exited the business in 2021.
A senior retail source said: “Everyone they have spoken to so far has said no chance until Mohsin disappears.
“This recent mess will only make people more nervous about taking it on.”
In recent years, the brothers’ closeness has been reflected in that they have used their wealth to build a complex of five identical mansions on a leafy street in Lancashire. They are also building a £5m mosque through their Issa Foundation, which supports local causes.