Narayana Murthy's Catamaran, Amazon Asia ink JV to get small biz online

Written by fe Bureau | Bangalore | Updated: Jun 28 2014, 20:47pm hrs
Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy has opened a new tab. Catamaran Ventures, his private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) initiative, has entered into a joint venture with Amazon to enable the transition of small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India to the digital economy. The JV, to be called Taurus Business and Trade Services, will see Catamaran hold the majority stake. The rest will be held by Amazon Asia.

Responding to an e-mailed query from FE, Arjun Narayanswamy, who heads Catamaran, confirmed the development.

Catamaran, however, was tightlipped about the contours of the deal. Catamaran and Amazon Asia formalised a partnership in May to help offline sellers and SMBs in India take advantage of the potential of the fast-growing online customer base in the country. Catamaran is the majority shareholder in the entity," a spokesperson for the venture said.

According to industry observers, this could be Amazon's plan to launch a pure-play marketplace as the global e-commerce major will hold its own inventory soon India is likely to allow FDI in B2C e-commerce soon.

"The entity is operational across major cities and towns in India to train SMB sellers in online tools and help them gain a larger customer audience for their existing merchandise and develop other offerings that will increase revenues and footfall for SMB retailers in India. The partnership will focus, accelerate and scale the inclusion of SMBs into the digital economy," the spokesperson added.

Ashish Jhalani, founder of advisory firm eTailing India, told FE, "I would assume they are planning to launch a marketplace. If FDI opens up, Amazon will hold its own inventory..."

On the foray into e-commerce, Narayanswamy said, Catamaran invests in ideas at various stages of evolution, including startups, mature companies and listed companies with varying degrees of ownership, from small minority to majority control.