India's Bharti group mulls Carrefour tieup
New Delhi, March 8, 2014
Indian mobile giant Bharti yesterday said it was scouting for a new partner to replace Walmart in a retail joint venture with reports saying it was in talks with France's Carrefour and Japan's AEON.
The new partner would replace Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, with which Bharti had a strategic alliance that fell apart last October.
"There are talks (for a new venture) but nothing is completed until the last dot is signed," a Bharti source said.
Nothing will be decided until after general elections conclude in May in case there is a change in policy, he added.
A Bharti spokesman declined to comment on media reports that the group, controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal, was in talks with Carrefour SA, the world's second-largest retailer and Japan's biggest retailer, AEON Company Limited.
Discussions with Carrefour were at an advanced stage but were put on hold due to AEON's interest in an alliance, India's Economic Times newspaper said.
"Some of the senior officials of Bharti Retail are in favour of tying up with the French major as it has an existing footprint in India's cash-and-carry space that would be a perfect match for Bharti Retail," the Economic Times quoted a source close to the negotiations as saying.
Carrefour, which has five wholesale stores in India, would fold them into a joint venture with Bharti if it emerges as the company's retail partner.
Aside from its mobile phone empire Bharti Airtel, Bharti also runs 212 Easy Day convenience stores.
Foreign players such as Carrefour, Britain's Tesco and Walmart have been eyeing India's $500-billion retail market since the government relaxed investment rules in 2012.-Reuters