Walmart was prepared for FDI policy change when it took on Flipkart

Chennai: Retail giant Walmart has said it was prepared for regulatory turbulence in India when it took over the nation’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart.

The comments came as India is looking to revise retail norms so as to peg a level-playing field for domestic and foreign players.

“When you make investment in India, things are going to change,” said vice president and chief financial officer, Walmart Inc, Brett Biggs. He said that’s what he learnt from his association with the joint venture with Bharti Retail that ended in 2013. Brett said this during a conference call with an institutional investor.

“They did the first time we were in India and they will again, we know that,” he said, referring to changes in FDI policy earlier. “We knew that going into an investment and you’ve just got to work their way through.”

“(We) don’t feel any differently than about it just six months ago,” Biggs said.

Flipkart and rival Amazon faced a setback in December when India tweaked foreign direct investment rules for e-commerce marketplaces.

The changes starting February barred online retailers from holding inventory, selling products of companies they have stake in, and capped purchase by sellers from the wholesale arms of the e-commerce company. The new rules also clamped down on exclusive tie-ups, deep discounts and selling private labels.

While Walmart said it’s ‘disappointed’ to have a law that changes quickly, it remains bullish on India in the long term.

NT Bureau