Speculation is mounting that US retailer Wal-Mart is preparing to acquire Russian grocery chain Kopeyka.

Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has approved the acquisition of Kopeyka by Ekarpos, an off-shore company controlled Nikolai Tsvetkov, head at Russian bank Uralsib and the main shareholder of Kopeyka.

Local analysts believe the move will allow Tsvetkov to consolidate ownership of 100% of Kopeyka's shares, which until recently have been operated by him through Ekarpos and three other off-shore holding companies. 

One Russian analyst told just-food that the reorganisation could be in preparation for the sale of Kopeyka to Wall-Mart, which made an attempt to buy the Russian company earlier this year.
"This will be the easiest way for Wall-Mart to acquire the Russian company instead of buying off three off-shore companies," the analyst suggested.

The deal is expected to reach in excess of US600m.