Tesco share price dips on Dunnhumby and Korea deal discount troubles

Lynsey Barber
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Is Tesco in for a deal discount? (Source: Getty)

More troubles could be coming down the checkout line for supermarket boss Dave Lewis.

Tesco is in for a "big blow" if it fails to make the £2bn it has been expecting on the sale of its Dunnhumby data arm, a deal which has had several firms scrambling to make an offer.

The deal may bring in significantly less than expected, the FT reports, after bidders got a look at the earnings of the marketing company, which is behind Clubcard . and saw they were not as good as first thought.

"A sale ‘fail’ would be a big blow for the company and its shares given their recovery from near 15 year lows hingeing very much on the future sale of that data analysis business and its Homeplus operations in Korea," said Accendo's Michael van Dulken.

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Tesco is looking to reduce its £22bn debt pile with the asset sell-off, and Dunnhumby is one of the jewels in its crown.

"Should either or indeed both deals struggle, a cash call would surely be necessary to help put the company on a more solid footing, easily sending the shares back below the key 200p mark and towards the depressed 156p from whence they bounced last December, maintaining that two-year downtrend intact," van Dulken said in a note this morning.

The end to an exclusive deal with US chain Kroger, which accounted for nearly all of its US business, is thought to have devalued Dunnhumby by almost half. The end of the Kroger relationship has freed up Dunnhumby to work with other businesses in the lucrative market, something which had been a sticking point in negotiating a sale and had been expected to oil the deal.

"The time that it is taking for Tesco complete the Dunnhumby transaction leads one to suspect that it is bogged down in commercial negotiation. Whilst not necessarily so, we would suggest that such bumps in the road are more likely to negatively inhibit any financial outcome than not," commented Shorecap's Clive Black.

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Bidders for the business include several private equity firms, media companies WPP and Neilsen, and even Google has been put in the frame as a potential buyer.

There is also a question mark hanging over the sale of Tesco's Korea business, which has a £4bn price tag, due to currency concerns.

"Sterling has rallied by 10 per cent in the year to date against the euro and 13 per cent against the Thai bhat and Korean won. Not only could this negatively impact any asset sales, but it also means we reduce our Asian and European forecasts and could lead to sticky imported UK deflation," said Espirito Santo's Rickin Thakrar.

Bids have already been pushed back and are expected by the end of August, according to reports.

"... the won is trending at low levels vs. sterling and bidders may wait Tesco out to get a better price, notwithstanding any underwriter issues. We estimate Tesco will get 7tn won (£3.85-4.0bn), however if Tesco decides not to sell or delays sale, it could be pushed further into junk," he warned.

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On whether a potential rights issue - previously ruled out by Lewis - is back on the table as a result of the Dunnhumby discount, Black said: "Whilst we cannot be certain, it is still our central expectation that Tesco will more likely than not look to raise capital from the market, and whilst not irrelevant Dunnhumby does not fundamentally move the dial on this front."

Shares in Tesco were down 2.6 per cent to 204.11 pence per share in morning trading.

Tesco declined to comment.

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