Tesco has applied to take a 50% stake in Tata Group’s Trent Hypermarket in India as it bids to become the first foreign supermarket to enter the country.
Tesco has made an application to India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board to support its existing Star Bazaar operation, which is franchised by Tesco to Trent.
Tesco supplies 80% of Star Bazaar’s products.
The Indian trade ministry said Tesco plans to invest $110m (£67.5m) in the venture following a relaxation of the laws on foreign direct investment last year.
Indian trade minister Anand Sharma said: “We hope that this will mark a new beginning in transforming India’s retail industry. I am sure that the other global leaders will also look at investing in India.”
Tesco plans to invest in Star Bazaar’s stores in the western state of Maharashtra and neighbouring Karnataka. Star Bazaar runs 16 stores in southern and western India.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We have been working with the Tata Group in India for over five years. We are submitting an application to the Government of India which, if successful, would allow us to enter into a joint venture with Trent Hypermarket Ltd.”
The move is marked in its difference to Tesco’s strategy elsewhere overseas where various circumstances have forced it to exit from Japan, China and the US.