Issa brother speaks out – we’re not splitting up

Zuber and Mohsin Issa

Mohsin Issa has insisted there is no rift with his brother Zuber, claiming in a rare interview with the BBC that they “get on exceptionally well”.

He told the BBC during a store opening in Stevenage: “We talk to each other probably two or three times a day. We’ve been very, very privileged. We have been on a journey and we have got a long way still to go.”

In the interview he confirmed he was seeking an experienced retail chief executive to run Asda, but also said the heavy borrowings were manageable and pushed back at suggestions that the petrol stations to retail business he founded in Blackburn in 2001 with his brother was in good shape.

“Even if our interest payments were to double Asda has more than sufficient headroom to service that,” he said.

“It is challenging. If you get up and if you’re not challenged then I suppose you shouldn’t be doing your job.

“We’re in a transition period where we’re evolving, but also we’re investing significantly. Market share will fluctuate over a period of time.

“We feel we’re doing the long term investment that will help us regain some of that market.”

The Blackburn-based brothers founded petrol forecourts business EuroGarages in 2021 and acquired Asda in a highly leveraged £6.8bn private equity purchase backed by TDR Capital three years ago.

The Issas contributed £100m of cash to the Asda deal, the same amount as TDR Capital, with the rest funded by the largest sterling corporate bond sale ever completed.

Zuber has been reportedly seeking a buyer for his 22.5% stake in Asda and wants to concentrate his attention back on EG Group.

The rare media appearance shows the shy character behind one of the UK’s most prominent brands and has been a far more comfortable experience than his disastrous appearance before a a parliamentary business select committee hearing, where he did little to assuage concerns from MPs that the ownership structures of Asda and EG were overly complex, and driven by tax avoidance.

In February 2024 the brothers hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons again after it was revealed that they took loans from EG to buy two high spec private jets.

The Financial Times reported that EG lent Mohsin and Zuber Issa’s Isle of Man registered personal private jet companies, Clear Sky 1 and Clear Sky 2, $7million in 2022, backed up by corporate filings, in addition to €39million in unsecured loans it lent them to buy the jets in 2018.