UPDATE 3-Wal-Mart looks at many partners for Russia entry

* Has talked with multiple potential partners in Russia

* Sees Russia retail market as underserved

* Likes acquisitions in a country to get scale first

* No target for international sales as pct of total

(Adds details on Russia plans; updates share activity)

By Brad Dorfman and Lisa Baertlein

ROGERS, Ark., June 3 (BestGrowthStock) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc
(WMT.N: ) has talked with several potential partners in Russia,
but continues to search for the best way to enter the country,
the retailer’s international chief said on Thursday.

Walmart executives have entered tentative price
negotiations several times since setting up offices in Moscow
to explore the best way to enter the sought-after market that
has turned in eye-popping sales for some western brands.

“We’ve been there with several different opportunities over
more than a year. They come and go,” said Doug McMillon,
Walmart International’s president and chief executive.

In May, sources said the company was in preliminary talks
to acquire Russian retailer Lenta. [ID:nLDE64B2IM]

The world’s largest retailer has had an office in Moscow
for about two years.

Russia is an attractive market for retailers, with a
population of around 140 million and low retail penetration.
But it has also been hit hard by the global economic downturn.

“We did make a decision, particularly when the economic
downturn occurred, that an acquisition is probably the best way
to enter the market. To make an acquisition, a buyer and seller
have to come together on terms,” McMillon said.

“We’ll make a decision when it’s the right time and we have
the right entry opportunity and not before then.”

BUYING IN

Walmart International’s chief financial officer, Cathy
Smith, did not comment on particular acquisitions, but said the
company tends to make an acquisition to enter a new market.
Such purchases help Wal-Mart start off with a large enough
presence to save costs through scale, letting it stick with its
model of low prices for shoppers.

Walmart’s international sales, at more than $100 billion,
accounted for about 25 percent of the company’s total revenue
last year. Smith said the company does not have a target for
how much that percentage should grow going forward. Walmart
aims to boost growth in overseas markets such as China as its
U.S. discount stores see same-store sales languish.

Walmart International has 4,110 stores in 14 countries and
breaks its expansion opportunities up in four ways.

The company wants to continue to grow in what it calls its
“big three” markets: Britain, Canada and Mexico.

Right behind those, the company is seeking more growth from
its operations in markets such as China and Brazil, where it
already has a significant presence.

Then there are countries where Walmart is “planting seeds,”
such as Chile, Argentina and India.

Russia falls into another group of “obvious” candidates for
acquisition that have large populations and not enough retail
presence, Smith said.

Walmart shares closed unchanged at $51.72 on the New York
Stock Exchange.

Stock Market Advice

(Reporting by Brad Dorfman and Lisa Baertlein; editing by
Dave Zimmerman, John Wallace and Andre Grenon)

UPDATE 3-Wal-Mart looks at many partners for Russia entry