Walmart Gets OK to Buy Share of South African Retailer

Walmart Gets OK to Buy Share of South African Retailer

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal Tuesday approved Walmart’s plan to buy a majority share of South African grocer Massmart for about $2.4 billion.

Published May 31, 2011

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal Tuesday approved retailer Walmart’s controversial plan to buy a majority share of South African grocer Massmart for about $2.4 billion.

 

With the deal Walmart would have a 51 percent share in the discount retailer.

 

Critics have slammed the deal, saying it would damage the local economy. The store, they say, would import cheap foreign products and make it harder for competitors and local manufacturers to keep pace, forcing them out of business.

 

The tribunal did admit that some in the nation would lose out with the deal, but added that in the long run, it would be beneficial to the nation.

 

The Competition Tribunal ruled in favor of the buy, with a few key stipulations including: a no-lay-off policy of Walmart and Massmart workers for two years and adherence to the nation’s current labor agreements for three years.

 

The body also said the lower prices would “benefit consumers by strengthening rivalry and improving choice.”

 

The deal, which could be finalized within the next few weeks, would bring between 2,000 and 3,000 jobs to the nation through the expansion of Massmart, according to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, the Associated Press reports. Massmart CEO Grant Pattison says that the stores will keep their African names and will gradually bring new, less-expensive items to store shelves.

 

But some don’t think it’s enough, and unions (who call Walmart anti-union) have said they’ll boycott and strike.

 

This is the first time the U.S.-based company, which has branches in South America, Europe and Asia, has launched any business ventures in Africa.

 

Despite any downsides, the deal could be the catalyst by which other major companies arrive on the continent to do business. Many times, South Africa is the continent’s pioneer when it comes to making moves on the world stage. For instance, the nation hosted the continent’s very first World Cup last year, and, until just recently, many believed the nation could have been a contender to host the 2020 Olympics.

 

(Photo: www.walmart.com)

Written by Hortense M. Barber

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