That didn’t take long. Two weeks ago the government of India approved legislation that would permit non-Indian majority ownership of multi-brand retail operations. The new legislation has opened the door to foreign investment in the country, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is getting ready to walk in.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that Walmart will apply for permission in the next 45 to 60 days to establish stores in India. Walmart already has a 50/50 joint venture with Indian retailer Bharti, but look for the U.S. giant to gain control now that it is possible to do so. Bharti/Walmart operates 17 wholesale stores in India.
Although the company’s plans are not final, a Walmart executive said last week it would take 12 to 18 months to open stores in India once the company had permission to do so. One restriction in the new regulations gives the individual states the right to approve or deny permission for foreign-controlled stores to operate within the state. So far only 10 of India’s 35 states have indicated that they will accept the foreign retailers.
Stores are also required to be located in cities with more than a million population, and are likely to be smaller than the massive stores Walmart operates in the U.S.
Walmart’s shares are down 0.1% today at $73.90 in a 52-week range of $51.63 to $75.24.