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French retail giants Carrefour and Casino are locked in separate talks with Indian property developer Parsvnath Developers over their possible entry into the country.

Carrefour’s ambition to break into India is well-known and the world’s second-largest retailer has been in talks with at least three potential partners over a cash-and-carry venture.

Casino’s aspirations have been less talked about although the company does have budding retail businesses in selected markets in Latin America and Asia.

Nonetheless, on the sidelines of the Food Forum India 2008 conference in Mumbai, Prasvnath told just-food that negotiations with both parties were ongoing.

“While we are not sure of how a venture will take shape, our main interest is to provide whichever company with the real estate space they will need to do their business,” retail business manager Aditya Kumar said.

Kumar would not elaborate on what type of stores either of the French companies were considering but insisted that Parsvnath has the capacity to provide the necessary floor space for either hypermarkets or supermarkets.

“Entering the Indian retail industry is something that any foreign company must do with a lot of research, confidence and trust in the Indian partner,” Kumar added. “Here in India, one cannot expect the same style of business that is available in Western countries.”

Last month, Carrefour CEO Jose Luis Duran said the company would delay its decision on when to enter India until it was sure it found the right partner.

Time, however, could be at a premium. India’s retail market is estimated at around US$350bn, a figure set to grow and, as well as attracting attention from overseas, a number of home-grown retailers, including Reliance Retail and Pantaloon Retail have been busy expanding across the country.