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Top Tesco Investor Slashes Stake

Things aren’t looking good for Tesco.

Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global—run by Norges Bank Investment Management—has slashed its stake in the British supermarket chain to less than 6 percent by selling 27 million shares, according to The Sunday Times.

It’s not the fund’s first sell-off. Since August, Norges has disposed of 83.5 million shares, valued at more than 125 million pounds (roughly $185.4 million).

And it isn’t surprising that the Norwegian group sees the supermarket as a risky investment. Tesco’s stock is at an 18-year low, after falling 20 percent in 2015.

In October, the supermarket revealed that its operating profits for the first half of the fiscal year had fallen by 55 percent, from 779 million pounds (about $1.2 billion) to 354 million pounds ($541.1 million), excluding income from its now-sold South Korean business, as cheaper chains such as Aldi and Lidl continue to grow in popularity on its home turf.

To add insult to injury, Tesco’s group business transformation director, Jill Easterbrook, quit earlier this month after less than a year in the role. The company claimed her work had been completed, echoing October comments by CEO Dave Lewis, who insisted, “Every important part of Tesco has been, or is being, transformed—operationally, culturally or financially.”

But the fruits of that labor have yet to be seen.

In a bid to boost its standing as a shopping destination, the company also inked a deal with Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group to open Dorothy Perkins, Burtons and Evans shop-in-shops in select locations to supplement its existing F&F fashion label.