Wesfarmers requests trading halt

RETAIL giant Wesfarmers has requested a trading halt, pending an announcement on its planned $20 billion demerger of supermarket chain Coles.

The Perth-based conglomerate requested on Friday morning that the halt remain in place until Tuesday, barring an announcement on Coles beforehand.

In March Wesfarmers announced its “once in a decade” move to spin off the Coles Group, its largest division, and list it on the ASX.

Coles — bought by Wesfarmers in 2007 — accounts for 60 per cent of the conglomerate’s employed capital, but only 34 per cent of earnings.

In August the company said it would retain 15 per cent of Coles post-separation, while also telling investors the sale would allow it to focus on generating cash for its leading stores moving forward.

Wesfarmers suffered a 58 per cent drop in FY18 net profit after taking more than $1.3 billion in costs and losses on its disastrous Bunnings UK exit and a $300 million writedown on underperforming Target.

In August it agreed to sell its Kmart tyre and auto services business to Continental for $350 million, as well as its 40 per cent interest in the Bengalla Joint Venture thermal coal mine project to partner New Hope Corporation Ltd for $860 million.

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