Wal-Mart has launched a tender offer to acquire a controlling stake in Chilean retailer Distribución y Servicio D&S.

Wal-Mart has offered US$0.408 per common share, representing a 37.4% premium on the average closing price over the past month. The tender is expected to commence tomorrow (23 December), the company said.

As a condition of the offer, Wal-Mart said it must acquire a minimum of 50.01% of D&S's fully-diluted common shares.

The Ibañez family, the current D&S controlling shareholder, has already agreed to tender an unspecified portion of shares. The family will enter into a long-term stockholders' agreement with Wal-Mart regarding D&S, which will continue to operate with its existing leadership, associates and brands.

If completed, the deal would give Wal-Mart a foothold in Chile's highly competitive retail market. Wal-Mart said it intends to become a "significant participant" in Chile.

"Moving into Chile is an important step in implementing Wal-Mart International's strategy. We continue to focus on portfolio optimisation, global leverage and winning in every market," said Wal-Mart vice chairman Michael Duke.

"A successful tender offer will give Wal-Mart the opportunity to be a significant participant in Chile, which continues to have a strong and growing economy among South America countries."