Continuing the battle with Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is approaching a deal to invest around $15 billion for a roughly 75% stake in the Indian e-commerce giant, Flipkart Group, according to Wall Street Journal.
Flipkart Group, founded by two former Amazon employees in 2007, now is India’s largest e-commerce company. It has already raised billions from investors including SoftBank Group Corp., Tencent Holdings Ltd., and Microsoft Corp.
Bloomberg reported earlier Friday that the Flipkart board had approved an agreement to sell about 75% to a Walmart-led group for around $15 billion.
The potential Flipkart deal suggests the fierce battle between Walmart and Amazon is heading to India. Walmart has grown slowly in India with stores for years and held talks with Indian e-commerce startups that didn’t lead to an investment.
Amazon is now the second-largest Indian e-commerce company after Flipkart by sales made through its website, kicking homegrown e-commerce company Snapdeal off that perch, according to some analysts. Softbank, an investor in both Flipkart and Snapdeal, had pushed the firms to merge last year without success.
Online retail in India is small compared with other growing markets like China and the U.S., but it’s expected to grow quickly as shoppers become more comfortable paying online. Online retail in India was worth about $20 billion last year but should rise to $35 billion by 2019, according to Forrester. China had $935 billion in online sales last year, and the U.S. $459 billion.