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Wal-Mart Mexico: new procedures to delay openings

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Wal-Mart's Mexico subsidiary said Wednesday its expansion plans for new stores will be delayed by 60 to 90 days because the company has instituted additional documentation procedures on real estate dealings.

The announcement follows a scandal about the company's alleged payments to middlemen to speed up the store-opening process, possibly through payments to local officials.

Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB de CV did not specifically mention the bribery scandal.

But the firm says it is "reinforcing documentation that supports real estate projects." The company has said it is conducting an investigation into the bribery allegations.

The company said it will spend $17.5 billion to open a total of 325 to 335 new stores in Mexico and Central America this year, representing an 8.1 percent annual expansion.

Before the scandal broke, the company had planned to open between 410 and 430 stores in various formats, ranging from small storefronts to large shopping centers.

The company said that total may still be reached, but by the end of the first quarter of 2013, rather than the end of 2012. The company said some of the delay was also due to the fact it wants to focus its energies in December on holiday-season sales rather than store openings.