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Wal-Mart, Accel Partners to Launch Net Unit

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and venture capital firm Accel Partners are forming Wal-Mart.com Inc. to lure consumers to retail site Wal-Mart.com.

Financial details of the deal, announced late Thursday, were not disclosed.

Wal-Mart.com will have a separate board of directors and management team, and will soon begin recruiting a chief executive officer and senior management team for the new company. The Wal-Mart.com board will include Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Lee Scott, vice-chairman and chief operating officer of Wal-Mart, and James Breyer, managing partner of Accel Partners. Wal-Mart will maintain a majority interest in the new company. Wal-Mart, Accel and the new Wal-Mart.com management team all will have equity positions in the new company.

The company will be located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where it wishes to reap rewards from the area's talent base and various new technologies. Wal-Mart's (WMT ). Scott said the location will be instrumental in the company's leap into the e-commerce fray.

Scott also said the new relationship with Accel will add value to the recent agreement with America Online Inc. In December, Wal-Mart and AOL (AOL) agreed to work together to develop a new co-branded Internet service (ISP) as well as numerous cross-marketing initiatives. The two companies also have agreed to increase the availability of local Internet service to American communities that are currently without this service.

"Our primary vision is to bring offline customers to Wal-Mart.com," said Les Copeland, Wal-Mart spokesman. "We have 100 million customers and that's why we formed a co-branded ISP with AOL -- to bring more of them online."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. operates more than 2,400 stores and 450 Sam's Clubs in the United States.