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Wal-Mart to open 14 new stores in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will spend $49 million to open 14 new stores in Costa Rica this year, the company said on Tuesday.

The new stores will create 1,500 new jobs in the Central American country, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart announced the investment after its chief executive officer for the Americas, Craig Heckert, met Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Heckert was in the Costa Rican capital for a Wal-Mart Central America board meeting.

Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in Mexico, has been stepping up its presence in Central America since entering the market in 2005. Central America is a largely poor region of around 41 million people that bridges Mexico with South America.

Wal-Mart Central America was formed a year ago when Wal-Mart obtained majority control of the Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHCO), which it first bought into in Sept. 2005.

The group has some 375 supermarkets and other stores in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and posted sales of about $2.2 billion in 2005.

Wal-Mart controls some 9,000 jobs in Costa Rica through its Mas X Menos, Pali, Hipermas and Maxibodega stores there.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Note: The above information is not to be used for any other purpose other than private study, research, criticism or review. Thank you.

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