Wal-Mart Buys Brazilian Supermarket Chain

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Expanding its presence in Latin America, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said yesterday it has purchased Sonae's retail operations in Brazil, which include 140 hypermarkets, supermarkets and wholesale units. The total transaction was valued at euro 635 million (approximately $757 million).

The Sonae retail company, formerly owned by the Portuguese group Modelo Continente, is based in Porto Alegre. It has approximately 20,000 employees and operations in the state of Sao Paulo and the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Parana.

"This acquisition reinforces our commitment to Brazil," said Mike Duke, vice- chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, in a statement. "We are looking forward to the opportunity to offer customers in a new region the low prices, wide assortment of merchandise, and outstanding customer service that we have become known for providing in other parts of the country."

The purchase was announced in Sao Paulo by Craig Herkert, president and c.e.o. for Wal-Mart in the Americas, and Vicente Trius, president of Wal-Mart Brazil.

Herkert noted that Wal-Mart has significantly strengthened its position in Latin America with the Sonae purchase and the acquisition in September of a one-third interest in Central American Retail Holding Co. (CARHCO), that region's largest retailer.

Trius said the Sonae acquisition would improve Wal-Mart's position as a national retailer in Brazil. He said that with the acquisition, Wal-Mart Brazil will operate 295 units in 17 of Brazil's 26 states. Wal-Mart Brazil recently opened its first supercenter in the federal district of Brasilia, the nation's capital. In 2004, Wal-Mart acquired the 118-store Bompreco chain in northeastern Brazil from Dutch retailer Ahold.

Trius said the acquisition represents a growth opportunity for both associates and suppliers.

"We expect to learn a lot from Sonae that will help us improve further our business in Brazil," said Trius. "We are looking forward to getting to know the habits of the local customers and to strengthen relationships with the regional suppliers. They are an important part of the company's strategy."

In addition to its growing presence in the United States, Wal-Mart operates stores in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
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