Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Amazon makes bid to spoil Walmart-Flipkart deal

Share of Unique Visitors in India Exclusive: Amazon offers to buy 60 percent in Flipkart - cnbctv18.com
Andy Castillo | 04 May, 2018, 14:14

According to a Bloomberg report, SoftBank is going to sell over 20 per cent stake in Flipkart at a valuation of $20 billion.

Amazon.com Inc has made a formal offer to buy 60 percent of Flipkart, CNBC-TV18 reported on Wednesday, potentially complicating Walmart Inc's bid for majority ownership of the Indian online retailer. These investors, are reportedly expected to fully or partially sell their shares in Flipkart as Walmart makes its acquisition bid for the company.

Additionally, it has been reported that Alphabet Inc., the parent company of search giant Google, is also participating in the deal with a $3 billion investment - as two American companies tag team against a third - Amazon.

There are various reasons Walmart decided on Flipkart instead of other players in India's sprawling e-commerce space, such as Snapdeal or ShopClues, the primary being its large logistics network and its capability to withstand an onslaught from Amazon.

The decision came a week after Flipkart bought back about 1.9 million preference shares worth a total of $350 million from various minority investors including DST Global and IDG Ventures in a transaction that closed April 27. SoftBank invested in Flipkart past year through its investment arm SoftBank Vision Fund and held a little over 20% stake in the ecommerce major.

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Once the acquisition process is complete, Flipkart's Executive Chairman Sachin Bansal may hang up his boots after taking company to new heights in the past 10 years, reports suggest. Co-founder, Binny Bansal, will probably remain after the merger since reports have indicated that Walmart is keen on keeping one of them.

Emails sent to Flipkart and Walmart did not elicit any response.

Walmart is now seeking a bigger stake than previously expected. Krishnamurthy, who took over as CEO from Binny in January last year, is seen to have turned around the e-commerce major after two sluggish years when it ceded market share to Amazon under the leadership of Sachin.

Amazon, on its own, has committed investments to the tune of Dollars 5 billion for its operations in India. "There has been a shareholder realignment within Flipkart over the past few weeks, which has brought top level fissures into the open", said a source cited earlier in the report.

The approval of the deal with Walmart also means that Amazon's offer to buy a majority stake in Flipkart wasn't accepted by the board. It is quite a smart strategy by Walmart to take on Amazon.

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