US retail giant Walmart Inc on Thursday tried to allay fears over its USD 16 billion acquisition of Flipkart, saying the deal is good for India as it will help create millions of jobs and give a fillip to the economy through local sourcing of goods by the company.
Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon played down not being able to meet either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or commerce minister Suresh Prabhu after announcing the world's biggest e-commerce deal, saying he has had meetings with officials in the past and would have them in future as well.
"We deal with the government at all kinds of levels all the time... we have met before and I am sure will meet again," he said.
He does not foresee any trouble in getting regulatory approval from the Competition Commission of India for the Flipkart deal to go through.
It is pretty clear that this (deal) is good for customers and would create jobs and help society, he said at a select media roundtable here.
Asked specifically if an appointment with Prime Minister was indeed sought, he said Walmart is not new to the country. That (meeting) is not the most important thing. We don't need a photo-op, he said.
On the number of jobs that would be created, he said while it is difficult to put a precise estimate to employment, investment in e-commerce space will create, third-party analysis shows that it can generate millions of direct and indirect jobs.
There is an opportunity over a period of years to generate another 10 million jobs. I don't want to put a timeline but we have analysis to show that, he said.
The jobs would be created not just in the company but with the suppliers who sell their products on the Flipkart platform.
Walmart will grow its wholesale cash-and-carry business by adding 50 new stores to its existing 21 in the next four-five years, Walmart India president and CEO Krish Iyer said at the same event.
TRADERS UP IN ARMS
Traders' body CAIT on Thursday said Walmart's $16 billion acquisition of homegrown retailer Flipkart will affect India's retail sector badly, and demanded that the government should scrutinise the deal.
"A regulatory authority should be constituted by the government which should scrutinize the details of the deal from different angles like competition and cyber security, predatory pricing, deep discounting and loss funding," said CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal. Meanwhile, a few activists of the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch staged a protest outside a five-star hotel where Walmart's CEO hosted a select media roundtable. The group on Wednesday alleged that Walmart was circumventing rules for a back-door entry into India.