French retailer Carrefour has withdrawn its bid for the Brazilian assets of its troubled Dutch counterpart Ahold.

Ahold has put its Brazilian supermarket division Bompreço on the market, as well as the G. Barbosa Comercial supermarkets and credit card business Hipercard. This is part of its strategy of withdrawing from South America following an accounting scandal which has hugely undermined the Netherlands' leading retailer, and indeed one of the brightest lights in the global retail sector in recent years.

Carrefour's decision leaves the field wide open for US giant Wal-Mart and Brazilian operator Companhia Brasileira de Distribuiçao (CBD, which owns the Pao de Açucar chain.

A decision is expected by the middle of November, reported Reuters.

In a separate story, Carrefour said it will spend US$150m on opening news stores in Chile by 2005. Carrefour Chile, with sales of $150m last year, currently has a 6.3% share of the South American country's supermarket business, according to the Chilean Supermarket Association.