Walmart intends to push into Africa with the $4.2bn acquisition of general merchandise group Massmart.

The US giant has made an indicative, non-binding offer for 290-store Massmart, which is headquartered in South Africa and has shops in 13 African countries.

Asda chairman Andy Bond, Walmart’s executive vice-president who also holds responsibility for operations in Africa, said: “South Africa presents a compelling growth opportunity for Walmart and offers a platform for growth and expansion in other African countries.

“South Africa possesses attractive market dynamics, favourable demographic trends and a growing economy.”

He said Walmart supports Massmart’s black economic empowerment programme and would work to be a “corporate and retail role model”.

Walmart International chief executive Doug McMillon said: “This potential combination with a market leader will enable us to add value to an already successful business through investments in people and technology.”

He said Walmart would honour pre-existing union relationships.