London: French retailer Carrefour is close to signing a retail deal with an Indian company in the next two weeks, Union commerce minister Kamal Nath said.
“Carrefour is looking at India very closely ... They said they are very close to closing up a retail deal in the next two weeks, that’s what they told me,” Nath told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.
Nath said Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer, was in talks with the Wadia Group and its Britannia unit.
The Wadia Group and French food giant Danone hold equal stakes in a joint venture that controls Britannia Industries Ltd, India’s top biscuit maker.
A Carrefour spokeswoman said the group was not immediately available for comment.
Global retailers Wal-Mart of the US, Carrefour, Britain’s Tesco and Germany’s Metro have moved swiftly to enter India’s booming economy as they face the prospect of slowing consumption at home.
Due to Indian legislation, these multi-brand retailers are only able to enter front-end retailing through joint ventures and competition for joint venture partners has been tough.
Late last year, Wal-Mart beat Tesco to a retail joint venture with Bharti Enterprises.
However, in a sign that legislation could be thawing, Nath said India would explore liberalizing foreign direct investment to its retail sector in the next two to three months.