Tesco has kept quiet about local reports linking the company with a joint venture agreement in India with Bharti Enterprises.

Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported that Bharti may have finalised Tesco as its retail partner and that negotiations were in final stages, after secretive talks lasting four-months.

But a Tesco spokesperson told just-food: “We do not comment on rumours and speculation.”

Bharti Enterprises chairman and group managing director, Sunil Mittal, told the newspaper that the company has not yet finalised a foreign partner. “We are in talks with a few of them and will finalise it in the next few months,” he purportedly said.

India, which has experienced a consumer-driven economic boom, is not currently one of the five Asia Pacific markets infiltrated as part of Tesco’s international strategy.

India does not allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail stores, but foreign companies can own up to 51% in single-brand retail stores. Tesco will hope to gather a strong presence in the Indian market until the FDI rules in retail are relaxed, the newspaper reported.

On 17 May just-food reported that the Indian Government had not yet made a decision on whether to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector and was examining the impact that such a move would have on employment and domestic trade.