Wal-Mart faces protest in India

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 22 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Wal-Mart executives who arrived to India on talks to conglomerate the business deal with Bharti retailers faced nearly 100 communist activists here.

"Wal-Mart Go Back," "No Wal-Mart, No FDI in Retail," read placards carried by the protesters who burned an effigy representing Wal-Mart near Commerce and Trade Minister Kamal Nath's office.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) activists offered themselves for arrest by police who took them in vans to a nearby police station. The protesters were released later.

Details, however, remained to be worked out. Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Mike Duke arrived in Mumbai earlier and planned to travel to New Delhi to begin talks with Bharti, said Sachin Talwar, an official at a public relations company handling the visit.

A national daily reported that Duke spent more than an hour in Inorbit, one of the biggest shopping malls in Mumbai, on Thursday. "It's good to learn about Indian customers and see how things are set up here," he said.

Bharti plans to invest up to US$2.5 billion (euro1.9 billion) in the next eight years to set up the chain, but Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has not said how much it will spend. It is also not clear whether the stores will be allowed to display the Wal-Mart name.

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