Wal-Mart to Buy 35% Stake in Chinese Discount Chain

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday it's buying a 35 percent stake in Taiwan-based Bounteous Co., a company that operates a major Chinese discount chain called Trust-Mart. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Wal-Mart said it may eventually take managerial control of Bounteous Co., which operates 101 Trust-Mart stores in 34 major cities in China.

The acquisition would make Wal-Mart the leading hypermarket operator in China. Its biggest rival there currently is Carrefour SA of France.

"Through this investment in Trust-Mart, we have the opportunity to expand our presence in China, one of the world's fastest growing retail markets," noted Wal-Mart's vice chairman, Michael Duke, in a statement.

"This is an important step in bringing additional scale to our China retail business and enabling us to do what we do best -- serving our customers with improved service, high quality and innovative products, and lower prices," Duke said.

Wal-Mart said Trust-Mart stores, at least initially, would continue to operate under their current banner.

Wal-Mart is one of China's biggest and foreign employers, with a work force of 37,000 and 68 stores. Carrefour, by comparison, has 240 stores, including 90 hypermarkets.
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