US grocery giant Walmart has confirmed its intention to acquire 51% of South African general merchandise and food retailer Massmart.

Massmart said it has received notice from Walmart of its “firm intention” to make an offer for Massmart for 148 rand (£13.31) per share, valuing the the business at about 17bn rand (£1.5bn).

The Massmart Board said it has “considered the terms of the offer” and is “unanimous in its support for the proposed transaction”.

Massmart said there are “still a number of important conditions that need to be fulfilled before the transaction can be implemented”, including majority shareholder support and approval from the South African Competition authorities.

Massmart chief executive Grant Pattison said: “This is a milestone in Massmart’s history. If approved, the transaction promises to be very positive for the regional economy, facilitating job creation, providing new opportunities for small and medium businesses and improving competitiveness.

“In gaining access to Walmart’s experience and capabilities, we expect to be able to offer consumers an even wider selection of products that are competitively priced and more consistently available.

Walmart’s offer for will ensure Massmart remains listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Massmart operates in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with 288 stores within four divisions.