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World's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc is keen to open retail stores in India with the government allowing foreign investments in multi-brand segment. 
 
The company, which currently operates a 50:50 joint venture with the Bharti Group for wholesale cash and carry, however, said it would have to study the policy fully and evaluate before finalising its future course of action. 
 
"Of course, that's the whole idea. We are in wholesale at present, and now that FDI in multi-brand retail is allowed, we are definitely interested in it," Wal-Mart India President Raj Jain told said. 
 
He was responding to a query on whether Wal-Mart would be interested to enter the front-end retailing in India. 
 
Jain, however, said it was too early to speak about the company's plans for opening retail stores and possible extension of its existing partnership with Bharti group into front-end retailing. 
 
"In our judgement, we have to study and understand the whole policy. We need to speak to our people and evaluate the situation and then only will take a decision on the future course of action," he said. 
 
Last week the government had allowed 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail but left it to the states to permit opening of foreign funded stores. 
 
Such stores would be allowed to be opened only in cities with a population of over one million. A foreign retailer would need to invest a minimum of $100 million, of which 50 per cent must be on back-end infrastructure within a period of three years of the commencement of the overall investment. 
 
Currently, Wal-Mart's JV with Bharti Group -- Bharti Wal-Mart runs 17 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in different parts of India. The JV is expected to open a total of 12-15 new such stores in India in 2012. 
 
Bharti Wal-Mart is a major supplier to Bharti Retail, which runs over 205 retail stores in different formats under the 'easyday' brand. 
 
Jain said the policy change would allow the company to connect directly with the consumer and save them money. 
 
"By being 'stores of the community', we will also help them live better. We are willing and able to invest in back-end infrastructure that will help reduce wastage of farm produce, improve the livelihood of farmers, lower prices of products and ease supply-side inflation," he added.

Story first published on: September 16, 2012 13:49 (IST)

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