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Namibia may oppose court ruling on Walmart

Walmart may face a further hurdle in its bid to acquire local and regional retailer Massmart, after Namibia's antitrust body said it may appeal against a recent high court ruling in the US company's favour.
Last month, Walmart added Namibia to the list of countries the last after Tanzania, Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia to approve the takeover of retailer Massmart's operations in their jurisdiction, after the High Court in Windhoek ruled against a Competition Commission imposition of conditions including taking on a local shareholder.

"The commission is considering lodging an appeal against the judgment and has referred the matter to its legal team for analysis and specific determination," commission chairman Lucius Murorua said in a statement late last week.

The commission has until the end of this month to lodge an appeal.

The announcement comes as SA's Competition Tribunal weighs up the evidence and argument of six days of hearings in Pretoria to decide whether to allow, block or allow with conditions Walmart's R16,5bn bid for a 51% stake in Massmart, which operates in SA and across sub-Saharan Africa.

The tribunal has until May 31 to announce a decision.

Access to the growing African market is crucial for Walmart.

Quarterly results released on Tuesday (17 May 2011) showed that sales outside the US about one-quarter of total group sales rose 6,2% on a constant currency basis, while in the company's home market they dropped 1,1%, the eighth successive quarterly decline.

"The best thing they have going for them is the international side of the business," Maggie Gilliam, president of retail consultancy Gilliam & Co in New York, told Bloomberg News.

Walmart said on Tuesday it was aware of the Namibian commission's statement, but declined to comment.

Source: Business Day


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