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Wal-mart finalises 51% takeover of S.African Massmart

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has completed its acquisition of a 51-percent controlling stake in South African-based Massmart, the company said in a statement.

“With the closing of our investment in Massmart, we are very excited about our entry into South Africa as well as the broader African continent,” said Wal-Mart International head, Doug McMillon.

Massmart will continue to trade on the local Johannesburg Stock Exchange Limited.

Last month the South African competition tribunal gave the company the go-ahead to buy a 51 percent stake in Massmart provided the US retailer does not lay off any workers for two years.

Wal-Mart in January signed a $2.4-billion (1.7-billion-euro) offer for a controlling stake in Massmart, which runs nine wholesale and retail chains with 288 stores in 14 African countries.

The deal was slammed by South Africa’s politically powerful unions. The country’s largest labour federation, Cosatu, initially threatened “the mother of all boycotts” if the takeover went through.

The tribunal ordered Wal-Mart to honour all existing labour agreements and not to challenge the position of the country’s largest retail-sector labour union, the South Africa Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union.

The deal will for the first time give Arkansas-based Wal-Mart a foothold in Africa and increase its market share in emerging countries, which have been driving its profits as US sales have slowed.