US retail giant Wal-Mart is now seen as the most likely contender to buy Ahold’s Bompreco supermarket chain, despite earlier doubts about whether Wal-Mart would make a serious bid for the chain.

“In the beginning nobody thought this could happen,” Basilio Ramalho, a retail sector analyst with Unibanco in Sao Paulo, was quoted by Dow Jones as saying. “Nowadays a lot of people, and not just analysts, say they hear Wal-Mart will be the most aggressive bidder.” 

Wal-Mart officials declined to comment on whether the retailer would make an aggressive bid for Bompreco, which operates 120 stores in the northeast of Brazil.

It was reported last week that each of the three expected bidders, Wal-Mart, France’s Carrefour and Brazil’s Companhia Brasileira de Distribuicao, had put in offers for Ahold’s Brazilian assets.

According to national supermarkets association data, CBD had a 14.6% share of Brazil’s market last year, Carrefour had 12.6%, Ahold had 5.2% and Wal-Mart had a 2.1% share, reported Dow Jones.