JOHANNESBURG, Jan 17, 2011 – Wal-Mart took a step closer to gaining a foothold in South Africa on Monday as shareholders in wholesale firm Massmart voted to accept the retail giant\’s bid for a 51 percent stake in the company.
The 2.5-billion-dollar (1.87-billion-euro) offer was approved by 97.67 percent of the South African company\’s shareholders, Massmart said in a statement.
The deal will now go to South African antitrust authorities for approval.
Massmart, the country\’s biggest wholesaler, operates 288 stores in 14 countries around Africa.
The shareholder vote came amid threats of a boycott led by South African labour unions, which have formed an "Anti-Wal-Mart Coalition".
The country\’s largest labour federation, Cosatu, has called Wal-Mart "one of the worst union-bashing employers in the world".
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has sought to expand aggressively into emerging markets as its US sales have slowed.
The company reported a net profit of 3.4 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2010, up 9.8 percent from the year before thanks largely to booming international sales.