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Walmart makes bid for South African supermarket chain

Walmart, the supermarket giant controlled by the Walton family, announced 29 November that it has made a bid for 51% of Massmart Holdings Limited, a South Africa-based retail chain.

This news comes after Walmart announced in September it was in preliminary talks with Massmart to acquire a stake in the company. 

US-based Walmart, the world's largest retailer by revenues, has offered 148 rand per Massmart ordinary share, valuing the deal at around 16.5 billion rand (€1.75 billion). 

Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International said in a statement: "The more we learn about South Africa and the surrounding countries the more we are convinced that this is an important region with attractive growth characteristics. 

"This combination fits perfectly with our strategy to enter high growth markets in which we can apply our global expertise and generate strong returns."

The deal, which still requires approval from Massmart shareholders, marks the first foray for Walmart into the African market and its largest emerging market acquisition so far.

Massmart is South Africa's third largest retailer with 290 stores and a presence in 13 other countries in southern Africa. It is one of the largest distributors of consumer goods on the African continent and is the leading retailer of general merchandise, home improvement equipment and supplies.

The Walton family still controls around 40% of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer, which had 2009 revenues of $405 billion and prides itself on its slogan: "saving people money to help them live better."

Christy Walton – the wife of the late John Walton, who was the son of the founder Sam Walton – is the wealthiest, according to Forbes. Her family's fortune was estimated at $22.5 billion although she has no management role in the company. 

Jim Walton, the youngest son of Sam Walton, was the second family member on the Forbes billionaire list, with an estimated fortune of $20.7 billion. 

His elder brother Rob Walton (pictured), with an estimated fortune of $19.8 billion, is chairman of Walmart.

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