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    Wal-Mart to Expand Business in Eastern China

    SHANGHAI - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that its wholly owned China unit signed a joint-venture agreement with the mainland's Citic Group to expand its retail business in China's eastern region, Dow Jones newswires reports.

    SHANGHAI - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that its wholly owned China unit signed a joint-venture agreement with the mainland's Citic Group to expand its retail business in China's eastern region, Dow Jones newswires reports.

    Wal-Mart's 22 Chinese stores are mostly focused in the south and it has no stores in Shanghai, where rival French retailer Carrefour SA has a strong presence.

    The East China Wal-Mart Stores Co. joint venture will expand in Shanghai and its neighboring cities, Wal-Mart said in a prepared statement.

    Foreign retailers are currently required to partner with local companies in joint ventures, with foreign ownership capped at 65 percent. They are also restricted geographically and must seek approval from the central government to open new stores.

    The statement said that the project will be submitted to the central government for approval. No details of the investment were provided.

    Wal-Mart also said that it launched operations for its global procurement business in Shanghai.

    Last year, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart purchased more than $10 billion in goods from China directly and indirectly for sale in Wal-Mart stores worldwide. This year, it is expected to exceed $12 billion, Wal-Mart said.

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