Wal-Mart’s Massmart Interested in 67% Stake in Kenyan Retailer

Massmart Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s biggest food and household-goods wholesaler, is interested in a 67 percent stake in Naivas Supermarkets Ltd., Kenya’s fourth-largest retail chain said.

“We have been talking for the last one-and-a-half years,” Naivas General Manager Francis Maswili said today in a phone interview from the capital, Nairobi. “Talks broke off some time last year and they came back around April, but still we could not agree on the valuation model.”

Massmart, majority owned by Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has met “several important players” in Kenya’s retail industry, Chief Executive Officer Grant Pattison said yesterday. The company’s “interest in investing in Kenya is well known,” he said. Massmart has nothing further to add today, according to a spokeswoman.

Business Daily, a Nairobi-based newspaper, reported yesterday that Massmart’s interest had triggered a dispute among investors at family-controlled Naivas about whether to sell. Multiple phone calls to the company’s Chairman Simon Gashwe Mukuha didn’t connect.

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, compared with 7.3 percent in the six months through December, as rising unemployment in Africa’s largest economy discouraged spending by consumers.

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