UPDATE 3-New stores help Mexico's Walmex post higher profit
* Q2 profit 4.936 bln pesos vs 4.523 bln pesos year earlier * Second-quarter profit rose 9 percent * Revenue up 12 pct MEXICO CITY, July 23 (Reuters) - Mexico's top retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico on Monday said its second-quarter profit rose 9 percent, in line with analysts' expectations, as newly opened stores boosted sales. The company has cut back on an aggressive expansion plan as U.S. and Mexican authorities investigate allegations it bribed local officials to speed up store openings. However, it still managed to open more than 50 stores in the quarter. Walmex, controlled by U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc , said second-quarter profit rose 9 percent to 4.936 billion pesos ($370 million) from 4.523 billion pesos in the year-earlier period. Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the company to report a profit of 4.93 billion pesos. Revenue rose 12 percent to 98.5 billion pesos, helped by the 56 new stores and restaurants Walmex opened in Mexico and Central America in the second quarter. The company has come under scrutiny after a New York Times investigation in April revealed it bribed local officials for building permits, allowing it to rapidly expand. U.S. and Mexican authorities are investigating the allegations and the company said it is co-operating fully. Walmex Chief Executive Scot Rank said on a call that as part of efforts to improve compliance with laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ( FCPA), the company has hired fo rmer Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner Jav ier Soni as head of compliance, real estate and corporate affairs. Rank also said Adriana Velazquez will join at the end of August with responsibility for anticorruption efforts, reporting directly to Walmart's global FCPA compliance officer Tom Gean. Ra n k did not say where Velazquez joins from. Although Walmex is still expanding, growth has slowed as a result of the corruption investigations. The company last month said it would slash planned store openings for 2012 and cut its planned investment spending in response to the investigations. To date this year, the company has opened 111 stores and restaurants in Mexico and Central America, down from 176 at the same point in 2011. Walmex said in its earnings statement that it expects to incur expenses related to the investigations but that it cannot give an estimate of those costs. Walmex shares closed up 0.82 percent at 36.9 5 pesos before the company announced results.
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