India’s biggest M&A deal runs into political headwind

NEW DELHI: Around a month ago, Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon wanted to fly down to India to discuss the $16-billion Flipkart deal with key functionaries in the Narendra Modi government and explain how the acquisition of the e-tailer, which has expanded on the back of foreign capital, signals the global giant’s commitment to India.

On most occasions, ministers and top officials would be more than willing to not just discuss the deal but also pose for photographs with a Walmart CEO. But the Bentonville-based retail giant’s team that was chasing the appointments in the national Capital was surprised to find that there was little traction within the government, prompting McMillon to postpone his trip until the announcement.
But the announcement of the largest M&A deal in the country has not brought the 51-year-old Walmart CEO any closer to meetings with senior Modi government officials. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Wednesday made the government’s position clear saying the government is at an arm’s length in deals like these but will act as a facilitator for the e-commerce sector.