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Bentonville-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that it will promote Karen Roberts to executive vice president and general counsel effective Feb. 1.

In her new role managing the company’s legal department, Roberts, 42, will report to Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary Jeff Gearhart, who oversees the company’s compliance, ethics and investigations, the retailer said in a statement.

A 17-year veteran of the company, Roberts currently serves as executive vice president and president of Wal-Mart Realty for Wal-Mart U.S.; before that, she was senior vice president and chief compliance officer for Wal-Mart U.S.

"Karen's humility, transparency and collaboration embody the leadership qualities we look for at Walmart," said Gearhart, 48. "She is an extremely talented professional whose integrity, breadth of experience, and knowledge of Walmart make her uniquely qualified for this important role. Karen's legal background and previous responsibilities directing our U.S. compliance and real estate functions provide an important perspective for overseeing the complex legal issues we deal with every day in our business."

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