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SAO PAULO, Brazil - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is interested in buying the Brazilian, Argentine, and Peruvian units of Dutch retailer Ahold, sources close to the process told Reuters on Friday.
Wal-Mart hasn't made an offer for the Brazilian unit, because it is negotiating to make a single bid for the Ahold businesses in all three countries, two sources, both in Brazil, said.
However, Wal-Mart will be taking part in the next phase of the Brazilian sale process, the sources said.
Wal-Mart representatives in Brazil declined to comment to Reuters, and a spokesman at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., declined comment.
In Brazil, Ahold is selling supermarket chains Bompreco Supermercados do Nordeste, the country's fourth-largest retailer, and G. Barbosa Comercial. Its Hipercard credit card business is also up for sale.
Bompreco, which Ahold bought into in 1996, has 119 stores, while G. Barbosa, a family company the Dutch giant purchased last year, has 32 stores. Together, they will give the buyer the dominant position in Brazil's poor, but profitable, northeast.
Ahold is selling its Disco SA unit in Argentina and its two Peruvian supermarket chains in the capital Lima.
Wal-Mart has only a small presence in South America, with 11 stores in Argentina and 23 in Brazil, according to Reuters.
The retailer is banking on international expansion to drive sales and profit growth in the next few years. The international operations are already growing much faster than the domestic business, albeit from a much smaller base.
Analysts have said that Wal-Mart is primed for another acquisition, noting that its debt level is lower than what the company considers ideal.
The retailer recently sold its McLane grocery distribution business to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. for about $1.5 billion in cash, giving it even more acquisition power.
In other Wal-Mart news, the company today said July sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year could beat its expectations as warm summer weather helped it recoup sales lost during an unusually cool May and June.
That would reverse eight months of sales at the low end of or below Wal-Mart's expectations.