MUMBAI (Reuters) – Staples Inc (SPLS.O), the largest U.S. office supply chain, plans to buy out its Indian partner Future Group’s stake in its wholesale operations for up to $35 million, a source with direct knowledge of the development said.
Staples will acquire 39 percent of its Indian wholesale joint venture from Future Group, which controls India’s largest listed retailer, at 1.5-2 billion rupees, taking its stake to 89 percent, the source said.
“The deal will be announced in mid July… the details of the remaining 11 percent stake, which is held by the current heads of the joint venture, are still being worked out,” the source said.
Staples Future Office Products provides stationery goods to large Indian businesses.
The government permits 100 percent ownership in such wholesale, or cash-and-carry, operations but does not allow foreign companies to own multi-brand retail outlets.
Staples Future does not hold any stake in the 11 Staples-branded retail stores in India run by the Future Group on a franchise basis.
The joint venture supplies goods to the Staples retail stores.
Future Group spokesperson declined to comment on the deal while Staples spokesman Owen Davis said the company “does not comment on plans related to partnerships.”
The deal will help Staples to capitalise on India’s 100 billion rupees office stationery market while it will help Future to move a step closer to its target of becoming debt-free by the end of the fiscal year ending March by exiting its non-core business.
Future recently sold its financial services business and flagship clothing brand which wiped out about $1 billion of debt from its books.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose, Editing by Tony Munroe and Anand Basu)