Wal-Mart breaks into India

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Seven out of 10 Americans shopped at Wal-Mart over the weekend, according to a Reuters poll. That's good news for the retailer considering its November sales numbers look to be their worst in a decade. But there's always the rest of the world. Today, Wal-Mart could have its first business venture in India. Miranda Kennedy reports from New Delhi.


MIRANDA KENNEDY: Wal-Mart has been chomping at the bit to start selling to India's fast-growing middle class, but government restrictions on foreign ownership have held it back. Only single-brand sellers allowed to own stores here.

But today Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal announced his intention to partner with Wal-Mart in a joint venture that he described as a partnership of equals.

SUNIL MITTAL: It will be a partnership of two very well-respected companies in their own right. The names have to be decided. But it will be franchised by Wal-Mart.

Mittal said his company will own the stores and Wal-Mart will set up the supply chain.

Wal-Mart hasn't officially commented on the deal but analysts say its easy to understand why they would want to gain access here.

Right now only 3% of Indian shopping is in big stores or chains, but India's retail market is expected to be worth $600 billion in another 10 years.

In New Delhi, I'm Miranda Kennedy for Marketplace.

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