Updated from 3:55 p.m. EDT

In a bid to expand its reach in the red-hot Chinese economy,


(WMT) - Get Report

has agreed to acquire a Chinese hypermarket chain for about $1 billion, according to a report from

The Wall Street Journal


The world's largest retailer will buy the hypermarkets of Trust-Mart, a closely held Taiwanese company, said the


, citing people familiar with the deal. The news comes as U.S. corporations wrestle with the complexities of tapping into China, the world's most populous country, where a new wave of consumerism appears to be building.

Sales growth has slowed in the U.S. for Wal-Mart, and while the company has long viewed opportunities abroad as a new engine of growth, its expansions into foreign territories have had mixed results. Its operations in Mexico have fared well, but Wal-Mart recently exited operations in Germany and South Korea, where its efforts to set up retail networks were unsuccessful.



also said the company beat out its rival in global retailing,

Carrefour SA

of France, in its bid for Trust-Mart. If the deal is approved by Chinese regulators, Wal-Mart will lead Carrefour in its number of Chinese hypermarkets, which are massive general food and merchandise stores. It currently has a total of 66 stores in China, including 61 hypermarkets.

The acquisition, which Wal-Mart and Trust-Mart reportedly agreed to a month ago, will take place in phases, allowing the Bentonville, Ark.-based company to gain initial ownership of 31 of Trust-Mart's 100 stores, adding the rest over time.

A Wal-Mart representative declined to comment on the report.

Shares of Wal-Mart recently were down 14 cents, or 0.3%, to $48.31.