Private equity giant KKR, and Rakuten DX Solution, a unit of the Japanese e-commerce group Rakuten Inc., have completed their share purchases in Japanese supermarket chain Seiyu GK from Walmart.
KKR now owns a 65% stake in Seiyu and Rakuten DX Solution owns 20% in the company, according to a statement. Walmart retains a 15% stake in Seiyu. KKR made the investment from its Asia private equity fund, the companies said.
The shareholders also confirmed the appointment of Tsuneo Okubo as CEO of Seiyu, effective immediately. Okubo’s decades-long career in Japan’s retail sector includes senior roles for national supermarket chains. He brings to Seiyu a strong track record of elevating corporate strategies and performance through digital innovation, enhancing the operations of physical stores, and localising businesses to meet the evolving needs of shoppers in communities across Japan.
“Together with KKR, Rakuten, and Walmart, we have a tremendous opportunity to build on Seiyu’s achievements and stature in the market to take its business to the next level of success. Looking ahead, we are excited to accelerate Seiyu’s digital transformation to better meet the evolving shopping needs of our customers while continuing to expand on strong in-store presence in communities across Japan,” Okubo said.
According to the statement, the new ownership structure enables Seiyu to take advantage of KKR, Rakuten, and Walmart’s combined retail expertise and innovation, in addition to accelerating Seiyu’s digital transformation to become Japan’s leading omnichannel retailer.
KKR, Rakuten, and Walmart are committed to supporting Seiyu’s growth and long-term strategy in Japan and look to build on Seiyu’s success as a local-value retailer of choice, the companies added.
Reuters had reported in November last year that Walmart is selling a majority stake in Seiyu to KKR and Rakuten for over $1 billion.
The deal, which values Seiyu at 172.5 billion yen ($1.65 billion) including debt, comes after on-off speculation about the world’s biggest retailer looking to exit Japan.
Walmart entered the Japanese market in 2002 by buying 6% in Seiyu, and gradually built up its stake before a full takeover in 2008.
Established in 1963, Seiyu is a nationwide supermarket chain in Japan with more than 300 retail units. Through its supermarket and hypermarket formats and Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper delivery service, Seiyu offers customers a broad assortment including fresh food, general merchandise, and apparel products across Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu.