Wal-Mart in Talks to Buy South African Wholesaler Massmart

The company has sought to expand aggressively into emerging markets as its U.S. sales have slowed.

Wal-Mart has entered talks to buy South African wholesaler Massmart for $4.2 billion, as the world's largest retailer seeks to enter Africa's biggest economy.

Massmart said on Sept. 27 it has received a non-binding expression of interest from Wal-Mart and has entered exclusive talks, capping months of speculation that the retail giant was seeking a foothold in South Africa.

"We have received a non-binding expression of interest from Wal-Mart that could lead to a cash offer of 148 rands (US$21) per share for the entire issued share capital of the company," Massmart said in a statement.

"We are at the beginning of the process and it is difficult to say how long it will take or whether it will lead to an offer."

Massmart, which manages several of South Africa's largest retail chains, operates 288 stores in 14 countries around the continent.

The company reported annual sales of $6.1 billion last year.

Wal-Mart has sought to expand aggressively into emerging markets as its U.S. sales have slowed.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company reported a record net profit of $3.32 billion in the first quarter of 2010, pushed by strong sales in China, Brazil and Mexico.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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