Wal-Mart one step closer to buying South Africa’s Massmart

New York City -- South Africa’s competition watchdog has recommended that Wal-Mart Stores’ proposed takeover of the country’s retail chain Massmart be unconditionally approved without conditions.

Wal-Mart made a $2.4 billion bid for Massmart in November, and a vast majority of the target company’s shareholders voted to approve the deal last month.

The deal now needs final approval from South Africa’s competition tribunal. A date for the hearing and subsequent ruling has yet to be set.

“It is difficult to predict exact timing as this is largely dependent on the availability of suitable dates on the Tribunal’s roll,” Massmart’s chief executive, Grant Pattison, said in a company statement on Saturday.

Wal-Mart is seeking to buy 51% of Massmart, which will remain listed on the country’s stock exchange. The proposed deal would be Wal-Mart’s largest since buying Asda of Britain in 1999.