Tesco move to pay business rates not linked to Asia special dividend - CEO

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FILE PHOTO: Tesco CEO Ken Murphy poses for a portrait outside a Tesco store in Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - The boss of Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, said a decision to waive government business rates relief during the pandemic was "disconnected" to plans to pay a special dividend once a deal to sell its Asian business is completed.

"It's completely disconnected. That dividend has been flagged for a number of months, I think people, the market, everybody, was aware of it," Ken Murphy told Sky News.

"It didn't influence our decision," he said.

Murphy also dismissed the suggestion that Tesco decided to pay business rates to force competitors, who do not have its financial strength, to do the same.

"When we made the decision, we didn't really think about the competition at all," he said.

"We were really focused on what was the right thing for the Tesco brand, what was the right thing for Tesco customers and Tesco communities and that's why we took the decision."

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton)