Bharti, Wal-Mart call off India joint venture, US giant to take 100% in Best Price Modern


Bharti Enterprises Ltd and Walmart Stores Inc. on Wednesday called off their joint venture firm Bharti Wal-Mart, ending nearly six years of a troubled partnership which ran wholesale stores under the Best Price Modern banner across India.

The break-up, which came amid allegations of FDI rule violations and mismanagement, was widely anticipated — especially after statements by Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal and Walmart Asia CEO Scott Price that both partners were evaluating the joint venture.

What came as a surprise was the appointment of Raj Jain, former India head of Wal-Mart and chief of the joint venture firm, as an adviser to the Bharti Group.

Wal-Mart will acquire Bharti's 50 per cent stake in the joint venture, giving the US retailer 100 per cent holding in the Best Price Modern stores.

"Given the circumstances, our decision to operate independently will be beneficial to both parties. Through Wal-Mart's investment in India, including our cash and carry business... (etc.) we want to serve India and its people, and continue to make important social and environmental contributions to the country. Walmart... will continue to advocate for investment conditions that allow FDI multi-brand retail in India," Price said.

Rajan Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director, Bharti Enterprises, said, "Bharti is committed to building a world-class retail venture and will continue to invest in Bharti Retail... We wish Wal-Mart the very best for the future."

Marriage & Divorce

2007: Wal-Mart, Bharti announce 50:50 partnership for wholesale venture

2009: Open first wholesale store, Best Price Modern Wholesale, in Amritsar

2010: Wal-Mart invests $ 100 million in Bharti-owned Cedar Support Services

2012: RBI, ED, MCA asked to probe violation of FDI rules; govt panel finds no evidence on bribery charge

2013: Joint venture called off.

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