3 Sep 2020

A FEW YEARS ago Future Group was seen as, well, the future of Indian retail. From humble beginnings making trousers in the 1980s, Kishore Biyani, its founder, built 2,000 shops in 400 cities across India, selling all manner of consumer goods. That is second only to the 3,700 retail outlets run by Reliance Industries, India’s largest conglomerate, which peddles everything from motor fuel to mobile phones. Future’s Big Bazaar supermarkets or Foodhall, a posh grocer, are enviably large and modern, as is its logistics network.

So enviable, in fact, that on August 29th Reliance said it would pay $3.4bn for most of the company. The combined group would account for one in three formal shops in India. “This transaction takes into account the interest of all stakeholders including lenders, shareholders, creditors,” said Mr Biyani in a statement.

Amazon might beg to differ. Last year the American e-empire struck a complex deal to provide Future, whose expansion had left it deeply indebted, with cash in exchange for an option to buy it later—law permitting. Despite fiddly visits from India’s regulators and trustbusters, Amazon’s hope was that the deal would go ahead. No such luck. On the contrary, India’s government has been making it harder for foreigners to own Indian warehouses and delivery fleets. It has tightened restrictions...

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This content was originally published by The Economist: Business. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By The Economist: Business

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