Amazon offers to buy 60 per cent stake in Flipkart

Flipkart sets aside $400 million for share buyback ahead of Walmart deal

PC Reuters

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, Amazon is also dangling a $2 billion breakup fee to address concerns that a deal between Amazon and Flipkart could run afoul of regulators in India.

It has been reported that the key officials of Flipkart had raised their eyebrows over the sale of almost 80% of the firm's stake to both Walmart & Amazon combined, as the move can face resistance from anti-competition regulators in India.

Flipkart's founder Sachin Bansal was reportdly in the USA last week to oversee final lap negotiations with Walmart, and the latter's global team is expected to come to India soon to finalise the mega deal.

Walmart's urgency to stem market share losses to rivals like Aldi or Amazon has also seen it launch talks to merge its United Kingdom arm ASDA with J Sainsbury, in which it will hold a minority stake.

According to a Times of India article from 14 March, Walmart's potential bid to acquire more than 51% stake by investing up to $8-10 billion in Flipkart may just nudge SoftBank to part-sell its shares.

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Amazon's offer is reportedly a move to counter Walmart's bid to become the largest shareholder in the Indian e-commerce firm. Walmart declined to comment.

Flipkart didn't respond to an email seeking comment.

The booming India e-commerce market is estimated to have touched $33 billion in 2017-18.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, touted in a letter to shareholders last month that Amazon was India's fastest growing online marketplace. Moreover, a longdrawn process could also create uncertainty among employees and vendors of Flipkart, the sources said. In contrast, a Form 1 notification, which is what competing companies file when their combined market share is below 15%, requires an approval process of three months. The Amazon bid is pegged at about $22-23 billion.

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.

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Amazon is the second-largest e-commerce player in India and Flipkart's primary rival.

Sales from Walmart International, which runs about 6,300 stores globally, stood at $118 billion in the fiscal year ended 2018, down almost 14 percent from 2014.

CNBC-TV18, the Indian affiliate of business news channel CNBC, was first to report on Amazon's offer.

Walmart's shares were 0.84 percent down at $86.67 during afternoon U.S. trading.

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