London, Tesco declined to comment on press reports that it was considering a joint venture with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer. According to a report in a British trade journal, Tesco allegedly would take a 49% interest in Meijer for about $4.5 billion in a deal that could be announced within weeks.
A spokesperson for Tesco said only that the company did not comment on market rumors, but emphasized that CEO Terry Leahy had never ruled out a push into the United States. Tesco is the U.K.’s largest food retailer and operates more than 2,000 stores in 13 countries worldwide. Meijer operates 170 stores in five Midwestern states.