U.S. Exit Could Take 3 Months: Tesco

LONDON — Tesco [3]here said Wednesday efforts to exit the U.S. are "going well," though it could be "at least another three months before we are able to conclude the process," the Financial Times of London reported.


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According to the newspaper, Philip Clarke, Tesco's chief executive officer, said the company had "fought hard in the U.S. [to continue to operate its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market [5] chain]. When I became CEO, I really did give it all I had. In the end, I'm responsible to investors, and I know I can deliver more for them by leaving than I could by staying."

David Gray, an analyst with Planet Retail here, said the plan to exit the U.S. "was welcome news for investors, even if the writedown of U.S. assets will prove unhelpful in the short term. We continue to believe the operation is likely to be split up between a handful of competing buyers, such as Aldi [6], Trader Joe's [7] and, potentially, U.S. dollar stores [8], rather than sold off in its entirety."

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For the fiscal year, Tesco said it had its worst performance in the company's history, with $3.5 billion (U.S.) in writedowns, including $1.2 billion from the decision to give up on its U.S. venture, the newspaper reported. The balance of the writedown resulted from the decision to take a property writedown for projects in the United Kingdom it will no longer pursue, plus a writedown in central Europe and a provision for mis-selling of payment protection insurance, according to the Financial Times.

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