Asda could be listed on the stock market after its merger with supermarket rival Sainsbury’s was blocked by the competition authorities.
Judith McKenna, chief executive of Asda’s owner Walmart, has told staff such a listing is being considered.
But, she told managers at Asda’s Leeds head office any listing could “take years”.
It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority blocked its merger with rival Sainsbury’s.
The CMA was concerned the tie-up would raise prices for consumers, raise prices at the supermarkets’ petrol stations and lead to longer checkout queues.
It has left the giant US retailer Walmart looking at options for the supermarket chain it bought twenty years ago.
“While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO – a public listing – to strengthen your long-term success,” Ms Kenna said.
“Walmart does not have a one-size-fits-all approach to operating its international markets, but a consistent focus on strong local businesses powered by Walmart,” she said.