July 2, 2018 / 6:26 AM / 5 months ago

Indian shopkeepers plan sit-in protest against Walmart's Flipkart buy

MUMBAI, July 2 (Reuters) - A lobby group of small Indian traders and shopkeepers has asked tens of thousands of its members to hold protests across the country on Monday against Walmart Inc’s proposed $16 billion acquisition of e-commerce firm Flipkart.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) says the U.S. retail giant’s buyout of Bengaluru-based Flipkart will create a monopoly in the retail market and drive small store-owners out of business.

Praveen Khandelwal, the secretary general of CAIT, told Reuters he expected a million people in all to join Monday’s sit-in protests across hundreds of Indian cities.

“This is the first phase of our protest. And if the government doesn’t listen, we will decide our future course of action at our national convention in Delhi later this month,” Khandelwal said.

Bentonville, Arkansas-headquartered Walmart in May announced it was acquiring roughly 77 percent of homegrown Flipkart, a deal which now awaits the approval of India’s anti-trust regulator.

Multiple sources and lawyers close to the deal have previously told Reuters that while the Competition Commission of India will consider all arguments, the CAIT did not pose a challenge to the acquisition.

Walmart, which currently runs 21 cash-and-carry stores in India, said on Monday it had been supporting local manufacturing in India by sourcing from small and medium suppliers, farmers and businesses run by women.

“Our partnership with Flipkart will provide thousands of local suppliers and manufacturers access to consumers through the marketplace model,” Rajneesh Kumar, senior vice president, Walmart India, said in a statement. (Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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