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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Wal-Mart to exit from South Korea
Wal-Mart store in Seoul
The new owner will brand the stores E-Mart
Wal-Mart is pulling out of South Korea - selling its 16 Korean stores to the country's biggest discount chain.

The US retail giant said that withdrawing from the highly competitive market was part of its global strategy.

Shinsegae, will pay 825bn won ($882m; 460m) for Wal-Mart's South Korean operations, if given approval by the country's regulators.

Wal-Mart said it had lost about 9.9bn won in 2005 from its business in the country, on sales of 750bn won.

It launched in South Korea in 1998 but last year ranked bottom of the nation's five discount store chains.

Tough trading

Shoppers, especially women, had been dissatisfied with the food and drinks on offer, said analyst group Hyundai Securities.

Wal-Mart vice chairman Mike Duke said the firm was focussing on where it could achieve most growth.

"It became increasingly clear that in South Korea's current environment it would be difficult for us to reach the scale we desired," he said.

The pull-out comes less than a month after French retailer Carrefour sold its South Korean business to another retail group, E.Land.

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