Bharti to ring in its retail partner within 3 months

New Delhi, April 28 | Updated: Apr 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
Bharti Enterprises will finalise a partner for its retail venture in the next two-three months, its chairman and managing director Sunil Mittal said on Friday.

Speaking to newspersons after announcing the full year and the fourth quarter results of Bharti Airtel for fiscal 2005-06, Mr Mittal said that the company was in talks with world major retailers like Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco.

While Wal-Mart is a multi billion dollar US giant, Tesco is an UK major and Carrefour is from France.

Mr Mittal said that the company is currently working on its retail foray and a report on this will be ready in two-three months. Bharti Enterprises has a presence in fresh fruit produce with Fieldfresh Foods, a joint venture with UK-based Rothschild Group.

Bharti is also into life insurance through a joint venture with AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd, a unit of Frances AXA SA. Mr Mittal recently said the venture hoped to begin insurance operations in June.

The organised retail industry is led by companies such as Pantaloon Retail, Shoppers Stoppe, Trent, Lifestyle and Subhiksha. It may be noted that the government had in January allowed single-brand foreign firms to own 51% of retail joint ventures. But multiple-brand firms like Wal-Mart and Tesco are still barred at the retail level, though they can set up wholesale operations.