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Wal-Mart Africa Unit Massmart Looks at Kenyan Acquisition

Massmart Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s biggest food and household-goods wholesaler, said it has met “several important players” in Kenya’s retail industry as the unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. seeks expansion abroad.

“Massmart’s interest in investing in Kenya is well known,” Chief Executive Officer Grant Pattison said in an e-mailed response to questions. “We don’t however, comment on acquisitions, potential, speculative or otherwise.”

Business Daily, a Nairobi-based newspaper, reported the South African company’s meetings earlier today, saying that among possible targets in Kenya, Massmart’s potential interest triggered a dispute about whether to sell among investors at family-controlled Naivas Supermarket Ltd. Multiple phone calls to Nairobi-based Naivas seeking comment weren’t answered today.

Nakumatt Holdings Ltd., East Africa’s largest retail chain by sales with a network of 40 outlets, said on July 25 that there are no plans to sell its shares. Tuskys, a Nairobi-based retailer with 42 stores in Kenya and six in Uganda, hasn’t held any talks with Massmart, a company official, speaking on condition that he not be identified, said by phone today. Tuskys sees prospects of opening more outlets in the near future and entering nearby countries, according to its website.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has a 52 percent stake in Johannesburg-based Massmart. The South African company said last month that first-half sales growth slowed to 5.5 percent, from 7.3 percent in the six months through December, as rising unemployment discouraged spending by consumers.

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