The investment wing of a state-owned Chinese firm plans to sell stakes of its investment in Walmart amid slow sales growth in the country over the past couple of years. China Resources SZITIC Trust, a part of the conglomerate China Resources Corporation, has listed the sale of its stake in 21 Walmart stores, Reuters reported Friday.
"Walmart believes that the transfer of minority interest will not influence Walmart's operation and development in China," China-based spokesman David Fu said in an email to Reuters.
Official postings showed the sale is listed for about $525 million. In the past five years, growth for Walmart in China has slowed, and the company announced in April it wanted to open 115 new Walmart stores in China by 2017, according to the BBC.
If Walmart does open all the stores it had planned, it would increase the number of Walmart stores in China by one-third. The stores would open in cities such as Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan, according to Reuters.
The expansion of stores was an attempt to get Chinese consumers to shop at the chain and help it become an integral part of the Chinese economy, representatives for Walmart said in April. Walmart also said at the time it wanted to close some stores which were underperforming in China.
Walmart has also tried to invest more in its online grocery shopping platform. Many international retailers, including Carrefour and Tesco PLC have lost market shares to local retailers in the last five years.
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As traffic to Walmart stores has slowed, the company has also teamed up with a mobile payment platform to bring mobile payments to about 25 Walmart stores in China. Walmart’s profits have also been hurt by an investment by the company to increase wages for store workers, according to Reuters. The company announced in February it would invest about $1 billion to increase hourly wages for thousands of employees, according to Fortune.