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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK


Business: The Company File

Wal-Mart says 'no' to UK

The Wal-Mart brand will stay out of the UK - for now

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has ruled out that it will move into the UK market in the near future, according to a report in the Financial Times newspaper.

The news will come as a relief to the top managers of Asda and Kingfisher, who had feared that a hostile bid from the US retail giant could spoil their planned £6bn merger.

There had been persistent rumours in the UK press and on the financial markets that Wal-Mart was interesting in buying Asda or another of the smaller UK retailers as a first foothold in the country.

Jay Fitzsimmons, senior vice president and treasurer of Wal-Mart, said margins in the UK were too high to make an acquisition attractive. He said the move would currently not be in the interest of shareholders.


[ image: Wal-Mart is ther world's largest retailer]
Wal-Mart is ther world's largest retailer
Mr Fitzsimmons said: "In the UK, eventually margins will move closer to the levels in the rest of Europe, and if you buy a company with high margins which then fall, it will be difficult to make it work for shareholders."

His comments were made at the international retailing conference of investment bank Goldman Sachs in London.

Goldman Sachs is one of the advisers to the Kingfisher deal as well as one of the global advisers of Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with sales of more than $137bn during the last year - equivalent to a tenth of the total output of the UK economy.



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