Reliance Industries is offering to sell a US$20 billion stake in its retail business to Amazon.com Inc., according to a report by Gulfnews. Amazon has held discussions about investing in the conglomerate’s Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. unit and has expressed interest in negotiating a potential transaction. Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, owned by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani is willing to sell as much as a 40% stake in the subsidiary to Amazon. A deal, if successful, would not only create a retail behemoth in India but will also turn Jeff Bezos and Asia’s richest man from rivals into allies in one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. At $20 billion, the deal would be the biggest ever in India as well as for Amazon
In India, where a lot of people still shop in tiny street-corner stores, the deal could be Amazon’s way of acknowledging that it needs a locally-entrenched partner with a strong on-the-ground presence. For Amazon, Reliance would provide a brick-and-mortar component to its ambitions in a country where online purchasing still accounts for a minuscule share of an estimated $1 trillion retail market.
A deal with Amazon would give further credence to Ambani’s ambitions to create an e-commerce giant for India akin to China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Reliance Retail already lured about $1 billion from Silver Lake Partners, while US private equity firm KKR & Co. is in advanced talks to invest at least $1 billion.