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Wal-Mart names interim head for India business

A Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A Wal-Mart Stores Inc company distribution center in Bentonville, Arkansas June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc , which has spent years trying to crack the long-restricted India market, said on Wednesday its country head had left the company and named an interim replacement.

Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, did not explain the reason for the change.

The company has been the most aggressive among global supermarket chains trying to set up in India but in November its local joint venture suspended its chief financial officer and others as it investigated alleged violations of U.S. anti-bribery laws.

Wal-Mart, which has run wholesale stores in India since 2009, has not opened a new one since October despite its stated plans to open eight in 2013. It has 20 such stores in India.

In a statement, Wal-Mart named Ramnik Narsey as interim head of its India business, replacing Raj Jain, who it said has left the company. Jain joined Wal-Mart in 2006 and was named head of its India business the following year.

Narsey joined Wal-Mart last month after serving as chairman and chief executive officer for Woolworths India, a unit of Woolworths , Australia's biggest supermarket chain.

In September, India allowed global supermarket operators to enter the country and own up to 51 percent of their local operations, although clarity on the rules is still pending and no global chain has applied for a license.

(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Tony Munroe)

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