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April 12, 2012

INDIA: Wal-Mart rebuffs reports of online JV talks

Wal-Mart Stores has shrugged off claims in India that it is looking to enter the online channel in the country and has been in talks with local e-commerce firms.

By Dean Best

Wal-Mart Stores has shrugged off claims in India that it is looking to enter the online channel in the country and has been in talks with local e-commerce firms.

India’s Business Standard newspaper claimed today (12 April) that Wal-Mart had been in discussions with unnamed “leading” online companies over potential partnerships.

However, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart India told just-food that the report was “based on completely speculative information”.

Foreign retailers are banned from owning stakes in multi-brand retail outlets in India and the restrictions also apply to the online channel. Last November, the Indian government tried to ease the regulations but within weeks was forced to postpone the plans amid local retail and political opposition.

However, overseas retailers are allowed to invest in the business-to-business sector and Wal-Mart has a wholesale venture in India with local conglomerate Bharti Enterprises. The rules do allow retailers from outside India to invest in B2B online ventures.

Wal-Mart has invested in online retail in China. It owns a 51% stake in local online retailer Yihaodian, which sells to consumers in cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

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