THE AMERICAN owner of supermarket giant Asda is “seriously considering” listing the business on the stock exchange in the wake of its planned merger with rival Sainsbury’s being blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last month.

Walmart, which has owned Asda since 1999, and Sainsbury's were told by the competition watchdog that the proposed combination of two of the UK’s biggest retail names would have led to a “substantial lessening of competition” in the market with the end result being that shoppers and motorists would be left “worse off”.

In an address given to over 1,200 UK managers this week, Walmart International chief executive Judith McKenna said the company was now looking into a stock market flotation as a means of securing Asda’s long-term success.

READ MORE: Competition watchdog blocks Sainsbury’s-Asda merger

“Walmart does not have a one size fits all approach to operating its international markets, but a consistent focus on strong local businesses powered by Walmart,” she said.

“While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO – a public listing – to strengthen your long-term success.”

While Ms McKenna conceded that it would “take years” to get the business ready for a public offering, Asda chief executive Roger Burnley said the company would take a number of other steps to sustain the business following the collapse of the Sainsbury’s deal.

Noting that as a key part of Asda’s strategy is to “win on price”, Mr Burnley said the business would be investing £80 million over the course of this year to “accelerate our price position” in areas that are most important to customers.

READ MORE: Asda-Sainsbury’s deal hit by findings of regulatory probe

Adding that as “ease is almost as important as price” to customers, Mr Burnley said that Asda also planned to start trialling new technology and same-day deliveries on groceries to ensure a “hassle-free” shopping experience.

“Forget the language of Plan A and Plan B,” Mr Burnley said. “There has always been one clear strategy for Asda [and that] requires momentum in the short term, growth in the medium term and sustainability in the long term.

“We need to prioritise and focus on what will make a difference to customers versus what won’t.”

Despite Ms McKenna saying that Asda has become “a stronger business over the last year” and that Walmart would ensure it had the resources to achieve “even greater things”, the GMB union has raised concerns about what the mooted plans mean for Asda’s 60,000 UK staff.

“We have called for an urgent meeting with Walmart bosses,” said GMB national officer Gary Carter. “GMB’s tens of thousands of Asda members have had enough uncertainty – they need to know that their futures are safe and secure.

“Walmart needs to remember they are playing with people’s lives while they try to make billions on the stock market.”

Asda and Sainsbury’s first revealed their intention to join forces in a £12 billion merger last April, with the CMA launching a formal investigation into the proposal in August.

READ MORE: Sainsbury's and Asda reveal details of £12 billion merger

The competition watchdog indicated in February that the merger was unlikely to succeed, with a preliminary report noting that if it went ahead the deal would lead to “higher prices, a poorer shopping experience, and reductions in the range and quality of products offered”.

The supermarkets rejected those findings, saying that they “fundamentally misunderstand how people shop in the UK today”.

The deal was rejected in April, however, with CMA inquiry group chair Stuart McIntosh saying the inquiry had “concluded that there is no effective way of addressing our concerns, other than to block the merger”.