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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 17:00 GMT
Wal-Mart in global expansion push
Wal-Mart store
Wal-Mart's international sales are growing faster than US ones
US retail giant Wal-Mart has embarked on a global expansion and acquisition spree, with a Japanese takeover and a doubling of its presence in Brazil.

Shareholders in Japan's fifth biggest retail group Seiyu have approved a $1bn rescue deal from Wal-Mart.

Under the agreement, Wal-Mart will raise its stake in Seiyu - which in turn will become a Wal-Mart subsidiary.

Wal-Mart also doubled its outlets in Brazil by buying 140 stores from Portugal's Sonae for $757m (427m).

Expansion plan

The stores, a mixture of hypermarkets, supermarkets and wholesale outlets, are scattered across southern Brazil.

We will continue to be opportunistic and look at both organic growth and mergers and acquisitions opportunities around the world
Craig Herket, Wal-Mart

The deal means Wal-Mart now has 295 shops in Brazil, making it the country's third largest retail chain.

Last year Wal-Mart bought a 118-store supermarket chain called Bompreco for $300m from the Dutch retailer Ahold.

It also owns stores in Mexico, Argentina and Puerto Rico.

"We will continue to be opportunistic and look at both organic growth and mergers and acquisitions opportunities around the world," said Craig Herket, president of Wal-Mart Americas.

Looking East

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's takeover of Seiyu will give it a foothold in the difficult Japanese market.

Under the rescue deal Wal-Mart will take a 53% stake in Seiyu in return for a 67.5bn yen ($585m; 328m) investment, while Japan's Mizuho Financial Group will invest 47.5bn yen.

Changes to sales policies, high costs and restructuring have hit Seiyu hard recently, and 2005-6 is expected to be the group's fourth straight year in the red.

Former Wal-Mart international vice president and chief operating officer Ed Kolodzieski will take over the running of the new Japanese unit.

"The company makes this investment because it sees a lot of long-term, bright possibility," he told a news conference.

"From our perspective, there is an incredible opportunity. There's clearly a lot of consumption in this country."

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