Wal-Mart Names Chile Head Ostale Chief of Latin America

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. promoted Enrique Ostale, head of its Chilean stores, to president and chief executive officer of its Latin American operations as the retailer probes possible bribery in multiple regional markets.

Ostale assumes the new role March 1, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said today in a statement. Current Latin American chief Eduardo Solorzano will retire from the role and continue to serve on the board of Walmart de Mexico.

Solorzano’s retirement isn’t related to the probe, said Kevin Gardner, a Wal-Mart spokesman.

“The changes we’re announcing today are just part of our normal process as we work to develop global talent,” he said today in an e-mail.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating allegations that the world’s largest retailer systematically bribed Mexican officials to more quickly open stores. Wal-Mart also has said it is inquiring into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Brazil, India and China.

The shares rose 0.4 percent to $68.61 at 12:36 p.m. in New York. Through yesterday, the stock has risen 16 percent in the past 12 months.

From an office in Mexico City, Ostale will oversee operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Ostale came to Wal-Mart from Chilean supermarket operator Distribucion y Servicio D&S SA, which Wal-Mart bought in 2009.

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