Coffee juggernaut Starbucks plans to open 50 shops in India in a megabucks deal with the nation's giant conglomerate Tata.
Tata Starbucks Ltd., as the venture is known, is banking on a fast-growing upper class with disposable money to spend on lattes.
"What we are seeing is an evolution in lifestyles," R.K. Krishnakumar, vice chairman of Tata Global Beverages, told The Associated Press. "In some ways the distinctions between the developed world and the developing world are blurring."
He said the partners would initially invest $80 million, with the first outlet to open in Mumbai or New Delhi by September.
"We're going to move as fast as possible in opening as many stores as we can so long as we are successful and so long as we are embraced by the Indian consumers," said John Culver, president of Starbucks China and Asia Pacific.
Culver said the company may open outlets in shopping malls, office parks, universities, airports and train stations.