San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Wal-Mart Eyes Central America

U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart is negotiatingto buy Dutch company Royal Ahold’sshares in the Central American RetailHolding Company (CARHCO), the businessalliance that comprises more than350 retail and grocery stores in CentralAmerica.According to the daily La República,Wal-Mart, which had $256 billion in salesin 2004, will buy Royal Ahold’s sharesfor between $500-700 million if negotiationsare successful. The daily reportedthat two years after taking Royal Ahold’sthird of the shares, Wal-Mart wouldassume control of 70% of CARHCO.Royal Ahold is one of three companiesthat make up the alliance, the othertwo being Fragua, of Guatemala, andCorporación de Supermercados Unidos(CSU), of Costa Rica. CSU owns thechains Más X Menos, Hiper Más, MaxiBodega and La Union.Alliances with foreign firms areapparently a growing trend for CostaRican supermarket chains. TheColombian firm Supertiendas yDroguerías Olímpica bought 50% ofthe Costa Rican supermarket chainMegasuper for $20 million in earlyJune, according to the weekly ElFinanciero.

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