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    Wal-Mart to Exit South Korea

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The world's largest retailer is selling its South Korean retail business after determining that it won't achieve the scale it desired. Mike Duke, vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., said yesterday that Shinsegae Co. has agreed to purchase the company's South Korean retail business for US $882 million.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The world's largest retailer is selling its South Korean retail business after determining that it won't achieve the scale it desired. Mike Duke, vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., said yesterday that Shinsegae Co. has agreed to purchase the company's South Korean retail business for US $882 million.

    Shinsegae is South Korea's leading retailer, with 79 E-Mart hypermarkets in the country. It will continue to operate Wal-Mart Korea's 16 stores but rename them E-Mart.

    "As we continue to focus our efforts where we can have the greatest impact on our growth strategy, it became increasingly clear that in South Korea's current environment it would be difficult for us to reach the scale we desired," said Duke in a statement. "We have decided to sell our business to the market leader as we believe this is the best option for our associates, customers, and shareholders."

    Wal-Mart will continue to have a global procurement sourcing office in Seoul. Wal-Mart stores in the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, and other markets carry South Korean products including apparel, plush toys, and home textiles.

    The agreement is subject to the approval by the Korea Fair Trade Commission.

    In domestic Wal-Mart news, the retailer said yesterday that it's teaming up with Boise, Idaho-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to present a $500,000 Acres for America capstone grant to Trout Unlimited. The grant will go toward helping to protect more than 28,000 acres of working forestlands and wildlife and fish habitat near the growing communities of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Wash.

    "It's a partnership that works for the people and the economy of Idaho," said Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho. "I commend Potlatch Corp., the State of Idaho, the Trust for Public Land, Trout Unlimited, and all the other participants in this important effort, which will keep many thousands of timberland acres in production while ensuring continued access to some of our state's wonderful natural treasures. In addition, I am appreciative of the charitable investment that Wal-Mart has made through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Acres for America program."

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