Walmart (WMT) has sold off Asda in a £ 6.8 billion ($8.8 billion) deal after 21 years of operating the grocery chain.

TDR Capital and the Issa brothers, two U.K. entrepreneurs that own EG Group, have purchased Asda, in a debt-free and cash-free purchase, acquiring a majority ownership stake in the grocery stores. As part of the deal, Walmart will retain an equity investment in the business as well as an “ongoing commercial relationship” and a seat on its Board.

“We are delighted to be able to announce this deal today, which we believe creates the right ownership structure for Asda, building on its 71 year-heritage, whilst bringing a new entrepreneurial flair, not only to Asda, but also to UK retailing,” Judith McKenna, president and CEO at Walmart International, said in a statement.

“I’m delighted that Walmart will retain a significant financial stake, a board seat, and will continue as a strategic partner. Asda has been a powerhouse of innovation for the rest of the Walmart world, and we look forward to continuing to learn from them in the future. This important combination will continue to keep customers and colleagues at Asda’s heart, which is important to us all,” she added.

Asda will also maintain its headquarters in Leeds, U.K., and continue to be headed by CEO Roger Burnley. Burnley will also sit on the company’s Board as well as the Issa brothers and TDR Capital.

Walmart said that Asda employees will continue to receive their same pay level through the acquisition.

The Issa brothers, who have experience in gas stations, will leverage this expertise at Asda’s more than 6,000 stores. The company will also invest over £ 1 billion ($1.29 billion) in the next three years to strengthen the company as well as its supply chain.

The Issa brothers, who are backed by TDR Capital, will continue to accelerate the focus of Asda by delivering low prices and convenience to customers. Asda will speed up its investments in its omnichannel and continue to source more food from U.K. farmers while retaining its commitment to domestic suppliers and small businesses.

Walmart has been looking to sell Asda over the last two years, which now, through the acquisition, it can turn its attention to its U.S. grocery business, which makes up about three-quarters of its revenue, Bloomberg reported.

“We are very proud to be investing in Asda, an iconic British business that we have admired for many years,” Mohsin and Zuber Issa said. “Asda’s customer-centric philosophy, focus on operational excellence and commitment to the communities in which it operates are the same values that we have built EG Group on.

“Asda’s performance through the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental strength and resilience of the business, and we are excited to support Roger and his team as they continue to reposition the business to drive long-term growth,” they said.

Walmart bought Asda in 1999 for 6.7 billion pounds, Bloomberg said. The grocer nearly doubled its online operation during the coronavirus pandemic. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Shares of Walmart were trading at $141.14 as of 11:11 a.m. EDT, down $1.94 or 1.36%.

As an "essential" retailer, Walmart has benefited during the coronavirus pandemic and will now challenge Amazon Prime with a new subscription service As an "essential" retailer, Walmart has benefited during the coronavirus pandemic and will now challenge Amazon Prime with a new subscription service Photo: AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM