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Wal-Mart Inc. buying British supermarkets
$10.7 billion deal is firm's first foray into Great Britain

LONDON -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the biggest U.S. retailer, is buying Asda Group PLC, one of Britain's leading supermarket chains, for about $10.7 billion.

In backing the deal announced Monday with Wal-Mart, the board of the British chain turned its back on a previously approved merger with Britain's Kingfisher PLC.Wal-Mart's first move into British retailing follows acquisitions that put the Arkansas-based store owner in eight countries outside the United States.

Asda shares rose 19 percent to 220 pence from Friday' close. Wal-Mart's offer values Asda shares at 220 pence each.

Wal-Mart's offer came just days before the Asda-Kingfisher merger was set for completion. Asda has 229 stores across Britain.

Takeover discussions "only developed in last week to 10 days," Wal-Mart Senior Vice President Don Soderquist said.

"From time to time in the past we've held talks, but not about an offer," Soderquist added. "The Kingfisher merger created the opportunity to look at it and become serious about it."

Asda chief executive Allan Leighton said the two companies are a good fit. "The way we operate is based mainly on ideas we pinched from Wal-Mart. So from a colleague point of view this is pretty much the perfect deal," Leighton said.