Asda could return to UK ownership for the first time in 20 years after a group comprising the billionaire Issa brothers and TDR Capital emerged as frontrunners to buy the supermarket.
It is understood the Blackburn-based brothers and the private equity firm have been named as preferred bidders.
Asda has been owned by US giant Walmart since 1999.
Walmart is selling a majority stake in Asda after a merger with Sainsbury’s was blocked on competition grounds.
A deal with the consortium could value Asda at £6.5bn according to Sky News, which first reported the story, although it has not been finalised.
The US private equity firm Apollo Global Management also remains in the race.
Asda already has a relationship with Mohsin and Zuber Issa through EG Group, their petrol forecourt business.
The supermarket recently announced its expansion into convenience stores and will initially trial “Asda On the Move” at three of EG Group’s fuel station forecourts in Ashby, Leamore and Primley in the Midlands.
Initially called Euro Garages, the Issa brothers founded EG in 2001, expanding it from a single site in Bury, Greater Manchester to owning almost 6,000 sites across 10 countries.
In 2019 the business reported revenues of more than €20bn (£17.9bn). TDR Capital now owns half of the group, with Zuber Issa owning 25% and Mohsin Issa the remaining 25%.
Walmart, which would continue to hold a minority stake in Asda after any deal, declined to comment on the sale process.
TDR and Apollo Global Management also declined to comment, while EG could not be reached for comment.