The cat is finally out of the bag. Sunil Mittal, the CEO of India’s telecom behemoth Bharati, which provides telephone connections to 24 million users, confirmed that his group has tied up with the world’s biggest, the US based, $ 416 billion retailer Wal-Mart. He was speaking to the financial media, today.
He said the retail chain ”will probably carry both brand names.”
“Bharati will have a comprehensive joint venture with Wal-Mart and given India’s size and potential, investments will run into billions of dollars,” said Mittal.
On being asked about ownership pattern of the joint venture, Mittal emphasised “it will be a partnership of the equals.”
Mittal said that the deal complies with existing Government rules. Since, India does not allow majority investments from multi brand overseas retail companies, like Wal-Mart, Bharati will own 100% of the front-end retail operations.
Mittal said it would take several months before the first of the stores opened their doors, but added, ”We are talking here about several hundred stores eventually.” The first Bharati-Wal-Mart store, however, is likely to roll out on 15th August, 2007, the 61st independence day of the country.
On being asked about Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer, with whom Bharati was in also negotiations for several months for a possible tie up, Mittal said “While both Tesco and Wal-Mart are great companies, Bharati found Wal-Mart to be a better fit for its retail strategy.”