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Amazon in Talks to Buy a Nearly 10% Stake in India’s Reliance Retail

By Rich Duprey – Jul 23, 2020 at 10:52AM

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Reports of the negotiations have come out on the heels of Walmart's latest move to challenge the e-commerce giant as a supplier of India's small-business market.

Amazon (AMZN -0.64%) is apparently trying to follow other global tech companies in partnering with Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries; Indian TV news channel ET Now reports that the e-commerce powerhouse is in negotiations to take a 9.9% ownership stake in its Reliance Retail operations.

Amazon has already invested billions of dollars in various Indian enterprises, and announced earlier this year it would spend as much as $1 billion to help that country's small businesses develop e-commerce platforms. If this new rumored deal comes to fruition, it would give the company a position in India's biggest physical retail chain.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Jockeying for position

India is becoming a flashpoint of competition among the biggest tech and retail companies. Both Alphabet (GOOG -0.73%) (GOOGL -0.68%) and Facebook (META -1.45%) have invested in Reliance Industries' Jio Platforms, a telecom and internet provider; and Walmart (WMT -0.27%) just sold its Indian small-business wholesale chain to Flipkart to better take on Amazon in supplying the millions of mom-and-pop stores that sell groceries and other goods in the country.

This is not the first time talk has surfaced of Amazon eying an investment in Reliance; it was rumored almost exactly a year ago that the two were in negotiations. However, earlier this month, Reliance said it would be bringing in new global partners and investors during the quarter.

Amazon and Reliance have also been competing to acquire a majority stake in Future Retail, India's second-largest retailer. Amazon invested over $100 million into Future Coupons, a gift card, loyalty card, and rewards card business for corporations that is owned by Future Retail.

Indian TV news channel ET Now reported Amazon is looking to obtain the stake in Reliance as a means of gaining a strategic position in Jiomart, Jio Platforms' online grocery business.

Neither Amazon nor Reliance has publicly commented on the rumors.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, and Facebook and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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