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Walmart makes first foray into Africa

Walmart, the supermarket giant controlled by the Walton family, announced 27 September that it was in preliminary talks to acquire Massmart Holdings Limited, a South Africa-based retail chain.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer by revenues, announced yesterday that if its initial proposal was successful it planned to offer R32 billion (€3.4 billion) for Massmart, which is South Africa's third-largest retailer with 290 stores and a presence in 13 other countries in southern Africa.

If it goes ahead the deal would mark the first foray for US-based Walmart into the African market and its largest emerging market acquisition so far. 

Andy Bond, who is responsible for operations in the region, said in a statement: "South Africa presents a compelling growth opportunity for Walmart and offers a platform for growth and expansion in other African countries."

Massmart 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 control 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.

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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