Ambani turf wars may extend to retail

mukesh_anil_ambani.jpgOrganised retail, if buzz in the pink media is to be believed, may be gearing itself up to witness a bitter fights between Ambani siblings.

After signing of the partnership agreement between Wal-Mart, the US-based, biggest retailerof the world and India’s biggest private telecom player Bharti, it seems that that Anil Ambani, the younger sibling of Mukesh Ambani, may be preparing himself for a bloody fight in the unchartered territory of organised retail.

It is no secret that the retail sector is getting hotter by the day, especially after the October, 2006, announcement of the aforesaid Bharti- Wal-Mart, tie-up.

Earlier, according to knowledgeable circles, Anil Ambani was working on a plan to enter the business of retailing pharmaceutical products by leveraging on the pan-India network of chemists and druggists, who are members of the All India Chemists Association. However, not only that plan was shelved, but in the meanwhile Anil Ambani got occupied with the much bigger ambition of becoming the country’s biggest telecom player by acquiring Hutch, the second biggest GSM mobile player, owned by Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampa.

However, when a number of parties have jumped into the arena to acquire Hutch, Anil Ambani seems to be working on the possibility of garnering a much bigger share of the retail pie by seeking to join hands with Carrefour, the France based, world’s second biggest retailer. The size and ambitions of this tie-up could be as big or even bigger as that of his elder brother Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Retail.

While, the non-compete agreement between the two brothers, it may be noted, does not preclude either of them from taking up the retail business, Carrefour is scouting for partners for its India foray after ealier having called off negotiations with the Dubai-based Landmark group for setting up over 200 hypermarket and other store formats in the country. The UK-based Tesco, the world’s third biggest retailer, after failed negotiations with Bhartis, is said to be currently in talks with Tatas.

We had earlier talked about Munjals (Hero Honda group)  turning out to be a dark horse in the race for a tie-up with Carrefour, however, it now appears that apart from Anil Ambani, Carrefour may also be exploring possibilities of a tie-up with FMCG major Godrej and Bombay Dyeing owner Nusli Wadia.

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