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    Wal-Mart Reported Close to Acquiring Ahold Unit

    SAO PAULO, Brazil - A source close to the deal says Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is close to an agreement to purchase Bompreco, Brazil's third-biggest retailer, from Ahold, Reuters reports.

    SAO PAULO, Brazil - A source close to the deal says Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is close to an agreement to purchase Bompreco, Brazil's third-biggest retailer, from Ahold, Reuters reports.

    The retail giant hasn't finalized the deal yet because it's fighting a court injunction preventing Ahold from also selling its smaller G. Barbosa Comercial supermarket chain to Wal-Mart on antitrust grounds, according to the source.

    "(Wal-Mart) has already chosen the executives that should work in Bompreco...in the first two weeks of December," the source told Reuters.

    Both Ahold and a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart in Brazil declined to comment on the reported sale. Ahold is selling its Brazilian assets as part of a wider exit from South America to help pay off huge debts in the wake of an accounting scandal.

    Bompreco Supermercados do Nordeste, which includes credit card business HiperCard, is considered the major asset of the sale. Along with the smaller G. Barbosa, Bompreco is the retailer leader in northeast Brazil.


    In September Wal-Mart, Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao, Brazil's largest retailer, and French group Carrefour submitted bids for the Ahold assets, but the injunction has held up the sale. According to a source, Carrefour, which has emphasized that it wants to grow organically in Brazil, had dropped its bid, but the company has refused comment on the sale process.

    Analysts estimate that a fair price for the assets would be between 30 percent and 40 percent of their 2002 net revenue. That translates to a cost of up to 1.1 billion reais (U.S. $375 million) for Bompreco and 281 million reais for G. Barbosa.

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