Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, is looking to acquire a minority stake in India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart, with an investment estimated at between $750 million and $1 billion, Reuters reported.
A source told Reuters that the two firms are in talks to determine the size of the stake, which would depend on the overall valuation of Flipkart. They are also reportedly discussing a partnership to share retail and supply-chain expertise in India.
A deal would give Flipkart additional resources to compete against US e-commerce giant Amazon, which has been expanding rapidly in India. Wal-Mart only operates wholesale stores in India.
A source told Reuters: “With Amazon slowly taking a lead over the Indian players, all these unicorns including Flipkart and Snapdeal are out there in the market to raise funds.”
Flipkart, established in 2007, was valued at about $11.5 billion last month, but that’s down from $15 billion earlier in the year as competition has intensified and funding become more difficult to line up.
Amazon announced plans in the summer to invest an additional $3 billion to expand its business in India, where it already employs 45,000 people.
In June it started partnering with India’s second largest operator Vodafone to sell handsets at the operator’s retail outlets in a move to boost its offline presence in the country. Amazon aims to leverage the cooperation to boost online sales of smartphones to compete with rival Flipkart, which has lined up a number of exclusive handset distribution deals with Xiaomi, Lenovo, Coolpad and OnePlus.
According to Counterpoint Research, one in three smartphones sold in India last year was through e-commerce channels, with Flipkart accounting for almost half of all smartphones sold online.