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    Wal-Mart Appeals Order to Open Books

    FRANKFURT, Germany - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s German arm has appealed to the supreme court against a ruling that would force it to open its books, the company said.

    FRANKFURT, Germany - Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s German arm has appealed to the supreme court against a ruling that would force it to open its books, the company said.

    The appeal, announced late Tuesday, is the latest round in sparring between Wal-Mart and service worker's union ver.di, which is annoyed at the company's refusal to join Germany's collective wage bargaining system.

    A state court backed ver.di's claim that Wal-Mart must release its earnings under amended German regulations. But the company said it asked the Federal Constitutional Court to stay the decision until the European Court of Justice rules on appeals of the disclosure provision by other companies.

    "Like numerous other companies, Wal-Mart has great doubts about the legal validity of the law in question and the permissibility of the measures based in it," it said in a statement.

    It was unclear when the court might make a ruling.

    Wal-Mart's Wuppertal-based German operation was organized as a limited partnership under laws that permitted it not to disclose earnings and other financial data, according to the company. However, changes to the German commercial code have altered those provisions -- but are being challenged by several firms at the European level.

    The world's largest retailer has fallen out with the ver.di union, Germany's biggest, over its refusal to take part in industrywide labor negotiations. It still must pay the wage rates negotiated by the union with the employers' association, which German law applies in the place of minimum-wage legislation.

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