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Carrefour puts India entry on hold

MUMBAI: France's Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer, has postponed plans to enter India until policy on foreign investment in the segment was clear, according to a report in the Economic Times.

"We will not be in a position to announce any concrete India entry plan till policy issues on FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail are made clear," Carrefour India Managing Director Gerard Freiszmuth told the newspaper.

Foreign multiple-brand retailers are limited to cash-and-carry and franchise or licence operations in India.

The French firm was also waiting to see the structure of a proposed venture between India's Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for cash-and-carry and the back-end, Freiszmuth told the paper.

Details of the venture were to be finalised in April.

"We have been looking at India as an attractive destination and hope to have a long-term association with the country. We are studying and understanding the various pros and cons and will not make an announcement in haste," Freiszmuth said.

Indian Trade Minister Kamal Nath had said in February that Carrefour was close to signing a deal with India's Wadia group for its retail foray. Local media have also reported the French retailer was in talks with other Indian companies.

India's fragmented $300-billion retail industry is forecast to more than double by 2015, but the proposed entry of big foreign retailers has triggered political concerns and protests from small shop owners who fear loss of jobs.