The Future Group, an Indian conglomerate with interests in retail, real estate, insurance, financial services and logistics, says it is prepared to invest INR1 billion (US$24 million) to launch as an Indian mobile franchisee – and eventually as an MVNO, reports Reuters. Chief executive Kishore Biyani confirmed that the group is in talks with a number of firms regarding a potential launch next year and has appointed consultancy McKinsey & Co and the UK’s Value Partners Group as advisers for its plans. “We have just begun talking with some network operators,” Biyani noted in a monthly newsletter.

The Future Group’s decision to launch as a franchisee initially rather than an MVNO is linked to the current Indian regulations banning MVNOs. However, the Indian government is currently in the process of reviewing the situation and is widely expected to revise the law. “The government seems to be open to allowing MVNOs, so we will start as a franchisee and when the rules permit, we will be an MVNO,” Biyani said in an interview with Reuters. Virgin Mobile has already teamed up with Tata Teleservices on the launch of a youth-focused mobile service in the Indian market via a franchise deal; the service caused controversy earlier this year when critics accused Virgin of illegally launching as an MVNO.