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Can Wal-mart get the magic back In the four years since Wal-marts founder died of bone cancer CEO David Glass has invested billions of borrowed dollars in businesses that have earned relatively low returns Glass age 60 seemed to be a good choice for CEO when Sam Walton at 69 tapped him to take over in 1988 Investors have knocked down Wal-Marts market value by 77 billion since the day Sam died Sam built it from nothing to 593 billion In the past year key executives particularly Sams favorites have left behind Wal-Mart to pursue jobs elsewhere The biggest shocker came at the end of March when Bill Fields Glasss heir apparent told his boss he was quitting to become CEO of Blockbuster Entertainment Fields headed Wal-Marts main operations and was the companys closest link to the glory days A hometown boy born and bred in Bentonville Arkansas Fields was hired by Sam straight out of the University of Arkansas 24 years ago He became a sort of surrogate son and was generally considered to be Wal-Marts star manager in operations and merchandising Fields earned 590000 a year to run a 68 billion business at Wal-mart At Blockbuster which revenues about 33 billion Fields is expected to make much more Yet Fields insists money wasnt the issue for leaving Fields archival Sams Club President Dean Sanders quit last fall Wal-Marts two most likely candidates for CEO are gone which puts Wal-Marts future more in the hands of Glass Glass has lifted Wal-Marts long-term debt from 17 billion in 1992 to 85 billion Glass plans to make Wal-Mart Americas largest grocer by saturating the country with super centers emporiums that combine a supermarket and general-merchandise store under one roof Sam lived to see Wal-Mart open only a few super centers But right after he died Glass Cranked up the spending and in four years has expanded to 260 stores They bring in about
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