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    Tesco and Carrefour will visit with respective heads of states

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    British and French will step up their lobbying in India as representatives of these two retail majors are accompanying British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President , respectively, when they visit India this month.

    The British prime minister and the French president, separately visiting this country, are bringing along commercial delegations including retailers Tesco and Carrefour, attracted by a burgeoning middle class and loosening curbs on foreign ownership.

    Although Tesco has not yet set foot in the country, the delegation accompanying the prime minister is likely to make exploratory forays in this sector. For its part, Carrefour is likely to soon announce its Indian partner, and the speculation is this may take shape during the visit of Sarkozy, industry sources indicated.

    Carrefour has shortlisted three Indian companies and the final partner is expected to be decided this month.

    With the explosion of purchasing power, India’s economy is poised to expand 9 per cent for a third straight year.

    , the New York-based consulting firm, estimates that India’s middle class – those with annual disposable incomes between $4,380 and $21,890 in current dollars – will increase more than 10-fold to 583 million by 2025.