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  1. Amazon makes bid to spoil Walmart-Flipkart deal: Report

Amazon makes bid to spoil Walmart-Flipkart deal: Report

The offer could be a ploy to block Walmart from bringing its expertise in logistics and supply chain management to Flipkart, people familiar with the matter said.

By: | Published: May 3, 2018 2:35 AM
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. (Reuters)

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. The news underscores how Amazon is laser focused on winning India’s fledgling e-commerce market. The offer could be a ploy to block Walmart from bringing its expertise in logistics and supply chain management to Flipkart, people familiar with the matter said. Reuters reported last month that Walmart was close to buying a majority stake in Flipkart, Amazon’s biggest rival in India, for $10 billion to $12 billion. The talks with Walmart for what could be its largest acquisition to date are still ongoing, and a deal is expected to be clinched soon, two people told Reuters on Wednesday. However, Amazon was indeed interested in buying Flipkart, said sources, asking not to be named. They declined to give further details. A spokesman for Walmart declined to comment. Amazon said it does not offer comments on rumours and speculation, and Flipkart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon’s offer could kickstart a new battle between it and Walmart, already fierce retail rivals in the United States that have reportedly dueled over at least one acquisition before. The bid emphasizes the importance of gaining a greater foothold in online sales in India, a market expected to be worth $200 billion a year within a decade. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, touted in a letter to shareholders last month that Amazon was India’s fastest growing online marketplace. The world’s largest online retailer has been pouring billions of dollars into India to ship goods to shoppers faster, contributing to growing losses internationally. A Walmart-Flipkart deal could lead to more intense price competition, retail consultants said. On Wednesday, Indian broadcaster CNBC-TV18 reported that Amazon had offered Flipkart a breakup fee of $2 billion to convince it to discuss an offer, which analysts say would bring with it substantial antitrust challenges. Flipkart and Amazon dominate the online shopping space in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Flipkart had vetoed an approach from Amazon for a 51 to 55 percent stake in the company two years ago, a source told Reuters, judging its offered price as far too low at the time. “Now with Walmart in the mix things are different,” the source said. “To the best of my knowledge no decision has been made yet. There is no deadline per se.” CNBC-TV18, citing unnamed sources, said Amazon’s new bid was likely to be on a par with Walmart’s, but that Flipkart’s investors and founders continue to favor the deal with Walmart, with founder Sachin Bansal overseeing final negotiations. WORLDWIDE MOVES Walmart and Amazon’s interest in gaining share in India comes after both retailers have struggled to grow in China, ultimately losing ground to Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Walmart’s urgency to stem market share losses to rivals like Aldi or Amazon has also seen it launch talks to merge its British arm Asda with Sainsbury’s.

It marks a shift in Walmart’s traditional approach of building a business on its own. Overall, sales from Walmart International, which runs about 6,300 stores globally, stood at $118 billion in the fiscal year ended 2018, down nearly 14 percent from 2014. This was in large part due to adverse currency movements, which hurt the money repatriated from its foreign arms, but also because of a series of missteps in major markets. In an effort to fix its international performance, Walmart in January appointed Chief Operating Officer Judith McKenna to run its international unit and has indicated it will focus on its core North American markets and growth markets like China and India.

Walmart initially entered the Indian market in 2007 through a joint venture with India’s Bharti Enterprises, years before Amazon arrived. That joint venture was called off in 2013, but it still owns 21 wholesale cash-and-carry supermarkets in the country. In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, McKenna said India was a “growth market,” and downplayed analyst criticism that the company has been slow to move in the country.”We have been deliberate and thoughtful, we were not slow to respond,” she said. Walmart’s shares were down 1.2 percent at $86.67 during afternoon U.S. trading.

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