India's Bharti still in talks, media crowns Wal-Mart

By agencies   |   Monday, 20 November 2006, 06:00 Hrs
Printer Print Email Email

Mumbai: India's Bharti Enterprises Ltd. said on Monday it is still negotiating a partnership with major international retailers, amid media speculation that U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores may have secured the deal.

Weekend media reports said a deal had been finalised with Wal-Mart, but a spokesman for the Bharti group, which controls India's biggest mobile services provider, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BRTI.BO: Quote, Profile, Research), told Reuters that no deal had been finalised.

Bharti Chairman Sunil Mittal told Reuters last month that a deal was likely by the end of November. He said then that Bharti was in talks with Wal-Mart, the UK's Tesco Plc (TSCO.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and France's Carrefour (CARR.PA: Quote, Profile, Research).

Game Console Wars
The video game industry's own clash of the titans reboots this week with the midnight launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 and Sunday's debut of Nintendo's Wii.

Full coverage
"Despite media reports that we have reached a deal, we continue to be in talks with all the global majors," the Bharti spokesman said on Monday, declining to specify when a deal may be done. "Any deal takes time."

Indian media have reported that the decision appears to be between Wal-Mart and Tesco. The Financial Express said at the weekend that Bharti and Wal-Mart had finalised a master franchise agreement that would include hypermarkets, supermarkets and grocery stores.

The two would initially invest $100 million, going up to $1.46 billion, the paper said, quoting industry sources.

Foreign retailers are keen to enter India's rapidly growing market, but multiple-brand retailers are only allowed to operate through franchises and licencees, or a cash-and-carry wholesale model, like Metro AG (MEOG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) and Shoprite (SHPJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research) have chosen.

Single-brand retailers are allowed to own a majority stake in a joint venture with a local partner, and the expectation is that India would ease rules on foreign investment.

"Bharti can't lose with either (Wal-Mart or Tesco): both have the size and the branding and a proven track-record in non-home markets," said a retail consultant who declined to be named.

"Ultimately, it would come down to who can deliver the better value and a cultural fit between the two companies," he said.

Ola raises Rs 400 cr for electric
Leading ride-hailing cab aggregator Ola on Friday said it raised Rs 400 crore from its early in..
Fossil Group sells smartwatch
Global watch and accessories maker Fossil Group has announced to sell its smartphone technolog..
GST rate cut to spur Bengaluru
The realty market in India's tech hub is set to grow as lower Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate..
SpiceJet plans aggressive
Budget passenger carrier SpiceJet plans to aggressively expand its international networks to fl..