Wal-Mart to Focus on Expanding Seiyu

New York City, Wal-Mart Stores is open to acquisition opportunities in Japan, but the retailer is more focused on expanding business at its 53%-owned Seiyu chain, according to a report by Reuters. Shares of Seiyu jumped Monday after Wal-Mart vice chairman Michael Duke told the Nikkei business daily that the company might look for more acquisition opportunities in Japan.

The paper reported that Duke welcomed planned changes in corporate laws in May that will enable foreign companies to buy Japanese firms through share swaps.

Wal-Mart last year tried to invest in superstore operator Daiei Inc., aiming to boost its presence in the country, but it lost the chance to Aeon Co., Japan's second-biggest retail group.

Wal-Mart entered the Japanese market in 2002 by taking a small stake in Seiyu. It has since invested more than $1 billion in the chain, but has yet to return the retailer to profitability.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Wyatt said Wal-Mart's focus in Japan is on Seiyu.

"It's a very sizable business today, so we still think that there are a lot of growth opportunities in the existing business," she said.

In terms of acquisitions, she said: "I wouldn't go as far as to say we're shopping for them."