April 23--Is the initiative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos beginning to take shape? Sources inform "Globes" that representatives of US retailing giant Walmart are expected to land in Israel this week.
Among the representatives visiting Israel is a senior manager of Walmart subsidiary Sam's Club who is responsible for cybersecurity. The aim of the visit is to examine possibilities for collaboration with or acquisition of Israeli cybersecurity companies. Sources at Walmart said there was no intention at present to open physical branches in Israel.
Walmart has had informal activity in Israel for nine years, connecting it to Israeli companies with new technology to offer.
Sam's Club, a chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs in the US named after Walmart founder Sam Walton, was set up in 1983. In January this year it announced the closure of 63 branches, representing about 10% of its business.
In February, the prime minister told Sam's Club president and CEO John Furner that he wished to see Walmart active in Israel. According to a report by Bloomberg, Netanyahu and Furner discussed the idea of Walmart opening a retail branch in Israel and investing in Israeli technology. The prime minister's economic adviser Avi Simhon said at the time, "We made it clear we are ready to ease regulatory burdens wherever possible to make the market more accessible to them. The door to Netanyahu's office is open." Bloomberg said that Walmart's spokesperson declined to comment on the report.
Israel's retail market is almost entirely run by local firms with no presence of major international players. When it comes to technology, however, the picture is completely different, and Israel is a magnet for technology and other companies seeking the next big thing here. Walmart too is apparently interested in Israel's technological capabilities.
Walmart, founded in 1945, currently operates some 11,600 stores worldwide under 63 brands and sub-chains. It has a market cap of $310 billion, and employs some 2.3 million people.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news -- www.globes-online.com -- on April 23, 2018
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