Amidst reports of American retail giant Walmart’s buying out Flipkart, Bharti Enterprises today sought policy parity with e-commerce in liberalising foreign ownership caps in multi-brand retail as well. Bharti Enterprises had first tied up with Walmart for a wholesale retail venture but ended it in 2013 due to a slew of factors, including regulatory policies on foreign direct investment caps in multi-brand retail. “I have been saying that retail must be opened up. Why are we having this subterfuge when you can allow e-commerce?” Rajan Bharti Mittal, vice- chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises told reporters.
“We should take a bold step and open retail, as the sector can create as much as 56 million jobs, including to women,” he added. Bharit said not all e-commerce players operate as a marketplace alone and their activities extend much beyond selling wares online. According to reports, Walmart is tipped to take a majority stake in the country’s largest e-tailer Flipkart for an enterprise valuation of USD 18 billion.
Mittal said even if the deal does not go through, there are multiple foreign-owned e-commerce players at present, including Flipkart with its current shareholding structure as well. When asked if he has any regrets, Mittal replied in the negative, saying one has to move on. He also pitched for a “fair” regulation in the group’s flagship telecom sector, where intense competition led it to report the maiden quarterly loss last week. Airtel, the country’s largest telco at present, is not losing market share despite the competition, he claimed.