A newly formed realty firm for the Bharti group has started scouting for land and commercial property across India to kick-start its foray into the retail trade and cash-and-carry trade business, a top company official said.
"Our desire is to start the retail trade and cash-and-carry business by August 15, but it will definitely be done before the end of this year," said Bharti group's chairman and managing director Sunil Bharti Mittal.
"For this, Bharti Realty Ltd has been formed, which will identify properties for us to start our retail trade and cash-and-carry business," Mittal said on the margins of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
Bharti will set up a retail trade chain under a franchise from the US giant Wal-Mart, with which it signed an agreement recently.
For its cash-and-carry business - which will include transportation, cold chain and back-end work for the retail trade business - a new 50:50 company has been set up with the US giant, Mittal explained.
Mittal, who is the co-chair of this year's annual meeting and vice president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), said he had no figures to offer in terms of intended investments in retail but added: "Money will not be a constraint."
He said his senior team, along with Wal-Mart officials, was working on various aspects that will determine the amount of money needed for the retail and cash-and-carry operations.
"We have to see whether to rent commercial space or own them. What will be our target areas? Do we hire commercial trucks? All these will determine the investments we will need," Mittal said.
He also spoke about the proposal by the global mobile phone giant Vodafone to acquire Hong Kong-based Hutchinson's Whampoa's stake in Bharti group's mobile telephony rival Essar-Hutch.
He said there had been no specific talks as yet with Vodafone's Indian-born chief executive Arun Sarin in terms of Vodafone wanting to sell its 10-percent equity in Bharti's telecom business.
"But we have no problems with that. Vodaphone has aspirations of running telecom business in India and having some management say. But that is not available in the Bharti group. So we have no problems if they look elsewhere," he added.