London: British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer TESCO is set to make a decision on the size of a potential multi-billion pound investment in India following representations by Prime Minister David Cameron as part of a UK trade mission.
Chief Executive Philip Clarke spoke with Cameron in the past few days regarding the retailer’s hopes for opening stores under its own name.
According to the Telegraph, Cameron, who begins a three-day visit to India, is believed to have committed to Clarke that he would press his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh over opening up of foreign direct investment (FDI) channels for British retailers.
Sources indicated that if Cameron will get the right assurances, a decision on a major Indian investment programme could be made by Tesco’s board as soon as this summer, the report said.
Although laws were recently relaxed to allow foreign retailers to own a majority stake in a domestic retailer, TESCO is concerned about the costs and impositions the government will place if it decides to go alone about the investment.
Tesco signed a deal in 2011 with Tata & Sons to work with its Star Bazaar brand to open 50 hypermarkets.
As part of this renewed push, Clarke is understood to have met with Anand Sharma, India’s minister of commerce and industry, during his visit to London a week ago, the report said.
During that conversation, Sharma is believed to have stressed that the interpretation of these rules is up to individual states.
A Tesco source indicated that it is working hard to reach a decision to invest further in India, once it has had clarification on a number of fronts, it added.
First Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013, 18:23