Supermarket chain Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, announced Friday it has agreed to purchase food wholesaler Booker for $4.7 billion (£3.7 billion).
The blockbuster transaction — billed as a merger — will hand Tesco investors a majority stake in the combined company and create Britain’s leading food business, the pair said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Tesco and Booker also said the combined group would bring benefits for consumers, independent retailers, caterers, small businesses, suppliers, and staff as well as value to shareholders.
“This merger with Booker will further enhance Tesco’s growth prospects by creating the UK’s leading food business with combined expertise in retail, wholesale, supply chain and digital,” said Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis.
The deal sees Lewis, who took the helm at Tesco in 2014 when the firm was in crisis and losing market share rapidly, switch to acquisition mode from his strategy of streamlining the sprawling international business.
His focus has been on reviving Tesco’s main grocery business in Britain and over the last two years he has sold Tesco’s South Korean arm for $6.1 billion, as well as its Turkish business and the Giraffe restaurant chain.
Under the terms of the deal each Booker shareholder will receive 0.861 new Tesco shares and 42.6 pence in cash.
Based on Tesco’s closing share price on Thursday of 189 pence the deal represents a value of 205.3 pence per Booker share – a premium of about 12 percent on its Thursday close.