Rumours suggest that discussions may be underway that would see Reliance unlock the Indian market for Amazon
The the impact of the coronavirus slowly becoming apparent on the world’s economies, but that has not stopped Mukesha Ambani’s Reliance Industries seeing huge investments take place in recent months. Facebook and Google are among a slew of companies which have made major investments, the total of which now exceeds $15 billion.
But Reliance is not stopping there. Reports from anonymous sources have told LiveMint that Amazon is currently in discussion with the Indian giant, potentially looking to buy a 40% stake in its retail arm for a whopping $20 billion.
Such a move, if it does come to pass, would be an enormous shake-up for the e-commerce industry. Not only would the deal mark the largest ever to take place in India, it would also drastically reshape one of the world’s most rapidly expanding markets.
Reliance, as an oil-come-telco business, has sought to use its enormous telecoms subscriber base of around 387 million to provide a foothold for its e-commerce business. In a country where so much business is done by small retailers on street corners, the shift to e-commerce is a slow process, but this has not stopped Reliance Retail from expanding to around 12,000 stores nationwide, serving around 640 million people.
It is exactly the scale of Reliance’s reach which will make this proposition so tantalising for Amazon. The Indian retail market is worth an estimated $1 trillion, but without a physical presence – which Reliance can provide – Amazon’s road to break into the market is a difficult one.
Amazon is not alone in its interest in Reliance Retail. Bloomberg yesterday reported that KKR is in advanced talks to invest at least $1 billion into the retail business.
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