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Wal-Mart Raises Stake in Seiyu

Wal-Mart boosted its stake in Japanese retailer Seiyu to majority status and will install one of its executives as chief executive officer as part of its tightening control.

BOSTON — Wal-Mart boosted its stake in Japanese retailer Seiyu to majority status and will install one of its executives as chief executive officer as part of its tightening control.

Wal-Mart, which now owns 53 percent of Seiyu, said Wednesday that Ed Kolodzieski, formerly chief operating officer of Wal-Mart International, will replace Noriyuki Watanabe, who will become chairman of the 404-store conglomerate, effective Dec. 15.

The fourth-largest operator in Japan, Seiyu has been losing money since Wal-Mart purchased a 6.1 percent stake in 2000. The conglomerate revised its results downward on Wednesday, projecting a 13.5 billion yen loss, or $115.5 million, instead of a 7.5 billion yen loss, or $64.2 million. Conversions are at current exchange rates.

“Seiyu’s performance in the third quarter has been disappointing, but we remain confident in the company’s long-term future,” said Mike Duke, vice chairman of Wal-Mart International.

Duke said Kolodzieski’s “operational and international experience, combined with the seasoned management of Noriyuki Watanabe, will provide strong leadership for Seiyu.”

Kolodzieski, 45, joined Wal-Mart in its Neighborhood Markets division in 2000, after a career in the supermarket industry.

Japan is strategically important for Wal-Mart because it is the world’s second-largest consumer market.

Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer and Wal-Mart’s biggest competitor globally, closed its operations in Japan earlier this year.

Wal-Mart will also stack Seiyu’s board with several of its senior officers, including Duke, international chief financial officer Wan Ling Martello and chief information officer Linda Dillman, totaling six Wal-Mart representatives on the 11-member board.

Seiyu operates supermarkets, department stores, two supercenters and five other formats. The majority of its sales come from food; apparel is its third-largest business.