A decision on Tesco's entry into India could be made as early as next month, the chairman of its potential retail partner has said.

Bharti Enterprises, an Indian telecoms giant, is in talks with a number of retailers, including Tesco, Wal-Mart and Carrefour. However, Tesco is believed to be a strong contender.

Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal told reporters in India last week that it had set a 90-day time frame for talks, which would end on 10 October. Once finalised, the venture could start as early as next April, he added.

One possible option for the venture would be for Bharti Enterprises to run the operation as a franchise, since direct foreign investment in multi-brand retail stores is banned in India.

A spokesman for Tesco refused to comment on the press reports, adding: "It is

a market we are looking at but at the moment the law largely prevents foreign retail in the country. "

Tesco already employs 1,200 in support and sourcing operations in Bangalore.