In what continues to be a never-ending outpouring of cash in Mukesh Ambani’s majestic retail revolution vision, Amazon is reportedly looking to follow Google and Facebook by acquiring stake in one of Ambani’s ventures. While Google and Facebook came onboard in a rare occurrence to acquire stake in Reliance’ Jio Platforms, Amazon is eyeing a sizeable chunk in Reliance’s retail business.
According to a report in the Economic Times, Amazon is in preliminary stages of talks to acquire a 9.9% share of Reliance’s retail arm. While exact details are unclear and both Reliance and Amazon declined to comment, a 10% stake would fetch Reliance retails nearly $300Mn, taking into account Morgan Stanley’s recent $29Bn valuation of the company.
Reliance Industries Limited, which is India’s largest company in terms of market capitalization, has been minting cash left and right across all its ventures. The massively storied digital behemoth Reliance Jio Platforms has seen over $20Bn invested in so far. Its investor list spans the entirety of Silicon Valley, including Facebook, Google apart from top VC/PE firms such as KKR, Vista Equity and tech giants such as Qualcomm and Intel.
Reliance retail is India’s largest offline retail chain, and is credited to an extent, for introducing the concept of large scale supermarkets in the country. Founder in 2006, the company now has over 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns, serving over 3.5 million daily. Yep, when you are in India, numbers are always huge.
Ambani, during the recently concluded Reliance AGM, had mentioned how he aims to formalise and massively digitise India’s retail business. He had also talked about bringing “global partners and investors in Reliance Retail in the next few quarters.” He plans to use the combined power of Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail to do that.
Amazon on its part, despite billions invested in India, hasn’t cracked the retail code yet. The company has invested billions already, with billions more in pipeline. The business is still not profitable, and attaching with Reliance Retail could give it much more volume to make the business self-sustaining.
The company has tried to make strides in offline retail before as well. As ironic as it may sound, it had earlier battled with Reliance Retail for a stake in Future Retail, India’s second larges retail chain. The company had acquired a 49% stake for $100 million in an associated company, Future Coupons. But then, looks like Reliance will, expectedly, have the last laugh, forcing Amazon to invest in a competitor it battled hard, to get some headway in the retail space.
In a related announced, Flipkart too announced acquisition of its parent Walmart’s India wholesale business. Ecommerce companies, after fighting it out in online retail and failing to convert sizeable Indian population into online shoppers, are now taking the battle to offline. It will be an interesting one to witness.