The logo of Flipkart Online Services Pvt is seen on the side of a package at the company’s office in Bengaluru, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Bharti Enterprises Seeks FDI Policy Parity For Retail And E-Commerce

Bharti Enterprises today sought policy parity on liberalising foreign ownership caps for both e-commerce and multi-brand retail players, amid reports that U.S. retail giant Walmart's is set to buy out India’s largest e-tailer Flipkart in a deal worth over $12-billion.

“I have been saying that retail must be opened up. Why are we having this subterfuge when you can allow e-commerce?” Rajan Mittal, vice chairman and managing director, Bharti Enterprises Ltd., told reporters on the sidelines of India Economic Summit in Mumbai.

Bharti Enterprises had first tied up with Walmart for a wholesale retail venture but ended it in 2013 due to a slew of factors, including the regulatory ban on foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

We should take a bold step and open retail, as the sector can create as much as 56 million jobs, including to women.
Rajan Mittal, Vice Chairman and MD, Bharti Enterprises

Mittal said not all e-commerce players operate as a marketplace alone and their activities extend much beyond selling wares online.

Walmart Inc. is close to finalising a deal to buy a majority stake in India’s leading e-commerce company for at least $12 billion and may complete the agreement in the next two weeks, according to a Bloomberg report.

He also pitched for a “fair” regulation in the group's flagship telecom sector, where intense competition from rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. led it to report the maiden quarterly loss last week.

Bharti Airtel Ltd., the country's largest telecom company at present, is not losing market share despite the competition, he said.

Also read: SoftBank Puts the Flip in Flipkart With Walmart Deal

Indus Towers Merger To Be Completed By March 2019

Mittal said he expects the merger of Bharti Infratel Ltd. with Indus Towers Ltd. to be completed by March 2019. “The company is currently waiting for all the regulatory approvals to come through,” he said.

On Wednesday, the board of Bharti Airtel Ltd. approved the merger of its listed tower arm with privately held Indus Towers to create the largest telecom infrastructure company outside China. The combined entity would have more than a third of the market with 1.63 lakh towers.

With PTI inputs.