The Walton family’s Walmart is reportedly looking at the possibility of expanding its operations in Brazil, after saying last year it was disappointed with its results in the South American country.
According to the Financial Times, the US retail giant, which is due to report its earnings tomorrow, has hired UBS to examine a potential bid for Carrefour’s Brazilian operations, despite the French company claiming the business is not up for sale.
Although Walmart pips Carrefour, which also has strong family business links, to the title of the world’s largest supermarket chain, the French company has a stronger presence in the Brazilian market. However, it is under pressure to sell off some assets, amid concerns over its profits in France.
Last month, a possible merger between the French retailer and Brazilian market leader Grupo Pão de Açúcar fell apart.
Carrefour was unable to comment on Walmart’s plans, a spokeswoman for the company said, but she added that Brazil continues to remain an important market for the retailer and it is hoping to achieve further growth in the country.
A spokeswoman for Walmart also declined to comment, saying: “We do not comment on market-entry speculation or rumours.”
Brazil has become a key target for investors over recent years, thanks to its fast-growing economy. Earlier this month, Australia’s family-controlled shopping centre chain Westfield acquired a 50% stake in Brazilian family-owned company Almeida Junior Shopping Centre.
A number of decedents of the founders of Carrefour, including the Defforey family, the Badin family and the Halley family, continue to maintain shares in the European retailer, while the Walton family holds around 48% of Walmart through the Walton Family Foundation. The company is currently in the process of buying back shares, which will see the Walton family increase its stake in the business.