Wal-Mart to open Indian stores in 12 to 18 months

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By ERIKA KINETZ, Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) — Wal-Mart says it plans to open retail outlets in India in the next 12 to 18 months. That makes it the first multinational to jump on India's decision to allow foreign players into its huge market.

Raj Jain confirmed the time frame Friday but declined to say how many direct-to-consumer stores were planned. He's the managing director of the joint venture Bharti Wal-Mart that operates 17 wholesale shops in India.

India announced last week that it would allow foreign firms to take a majority stake in multi-brand stores for the first time. The surprise decision cheered investors but cost the ruling Congress Party an important coalition ally.

Opponents say the move will cost Indians jobs and decimate millions of mom-and-pop shops.

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