A customer, second right, pushes a shopping cart towards an entrance of a Seiyu store, operated by Seiyu GK, in Tokyo, Japan. (Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg)

Walmart Says It Hasn't Made a Decision to Sell Japanese Unit

(Bloomberg) -- Walmart Inc. said it’s committed to building its Japanese business, downplaying media reports that the retailing giant will sell its Seiyu chain.

“Walmart has not made a decision to sell Seiyu, we are not in any discussions with prospective buyers,” the company said in an emailed statement. “We continue to build our Japan business towards the future to meet the changing needs of customers there.”

The world’s largest retailer has held preliminary talks with investment banks about a possible sale of Seiyu, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Walmart hasn’t started a formal sale process, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

The Financial Times reported Thursday in Tokyo that Walmart had approached bankers as it explores a possible sale of Seiyu, citing unidentified people.

Walmart has been reshaping its international operations. In recent months, it has sold a majority stake in its Brazilian business, agreed to cede control of its British chain Asda and spend $16 billion to acquire India’s e-commerce leader Flipkart Group in its biggest-ever deal.

Judith McKenna, who took the helm of Walmart’s $120 billion international business earlier this year, said she was “happy” with Seiyu’s performance during a press conference in late May. She added that the business was “in the middle of a transformation” with a bigger focus on grocery sales and the alliance with Rakuten Inc.

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