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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Wal-Mart 'eyes China expansion'
Workers at Wal-Mart store in Beijing
Wal-Mart has ambitious expansion plans for the Chinese market
Wal-Mart is to invest $1bn (540m) in a deal to become China's biggest network of hypermarkets, reports say.

According to the Wall Street Journal the group is to buy 100 supercentre stores from Taiwanese firm Trust-Mart. Wal-Mart declined to comment.

The Trust-Mart stores generated sales of $1.42bn in 2005, figures from Euromart show.

International firms are turning their focus to China in the hope of profiting from its fast-growing economy.

Wal-Mart itself has long touted plans to extend its current network of 66 stores, saying its operations in the country could one day be as big as its business in the US.

Wal-Mart opened its first Chinese store in 1996 and recently revealed plans to hire a further 150,000 workers in the country.

However, Wal-Mart's international operations have not all met with success. In July it announced it was pulling out of the German market, just months after exiting the South Korean market.

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