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Amid Turmoil, Walmart Pressing Forward in San Ramon, West Coast

Walmart says its new Neighborhood Market in San Ramon is planned to open in September.

Walmart's expansion of its Neighborhood Market grocery store chain on the West Coast, including a store in San Ramon, is moving forward even as the Arkansas-based company is facing serious allegations of bribing foreign officials and covering it up in the United States.

Construction continues for the Neighborhood Market in the Country Club Village Shopping Center off Alcosta in South San Ramon. The store is planned to open in September, Walmart media director Delia Garcia said.

Not just in San Ramon, but Garcia said Walmart is pressing forward with opening Neighborhood Markets throughout California, including Pleasanton, Hayward and Stockton.

In Pleasanton on Monday, the City Council delayed a vote to allow a Neighborhood Market becuase it wanted to see if the allegations the company faces will have an impact on the city.

Walmart's potential legal trouble first became public on April 21, when the New York Times reported Walmart de Mexico orchestrated a bribery campaign of influential Mexican officials to gain market share in the country.

When American Walmart officials got wind of the bribery campaign, they shutdown an internal investigation, the New York Times says.

There's a federal law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American corporations to bribe foreign officials. The Justice Department is currently investigating if any laws have been broken. The Mexican government is also investigating if laws were broken in their country.

Adding to the company's trouble, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which holds more than 5.3 million shares of Walmart, sued the company last week. It believes senior Walmart officials made opportunistic stock sales before the New York Times article broke.

The fallout from the scandal has impacted Walmart's shareholders. Since April 21, the stock has dropped about 8 percent, totalling about $15 billion.

Garcia said she could not comment on the New York Times article or the lawsuit filed by CalSTRS.

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Anand May 09, 2012 at 12:30 AM
What has Walmart's troubles at corporate level got to with opening new stores ? Bottom line: Walmart sells goods at low prices. It should be encouraged. The truth is everybody is looking out for himself/herself. Consumers look for the best product/service at the lowest prices. While Wlamart is not the best, they provide value for money.
Patrick Creaven May 09, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Hey Anand. Some might have wondered if Walmart's trouble as a company — its $15 billion loss in market value in the last couple weeks, for example — would make it think twice about expanding its grocery store chain to San Ramon or other parts of California. The article says no, Walmart is not changing its business plan for the area.
Longtime Resident May 09, 2012 at 03:42 AM
The market cap doesn't affect how much cash Walmart has to spend on projects like this. That's simply what investors value the company at.
Dan May 09, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Hap Magee Ranch Park to a Wal-Mart?? Sorry, I mean an "Upscale" Wal-Mart for Alamo... none the less, this must be a joke. Placing a Wal-Mart in that location is really going to change the atmosphere around there. Thats right in the middle of a quiet and nice neighborhood, not to mention the amount of traffic that would generate. I just don't believe it..

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