New Delhi, Apr 23: Walmart Inc. is close to finalizing a deal to buy a majority stake in India’s leading e-commerce company for at least $12 billion and may complete the agreement in the next two weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
All the major investors in Flipkart Online Services Pvt are now on board with the Walmart purchase, after an earlier debate over an Amazon.com Inc. acquisition, said the people, asking not to be named because the matter is private. Tiger Global Management will sell nearly all its 20 percent stake in Flipkart, while SoftBank Group Corp. will offload a substantial part of its 20 percent-plus holding, the people said. Walmart will likely end up with 60 percent to 80 percent of Flipkart, valued at about $20 billion, they said.
Among the issues still to be resolved are whether Flipkart’s founders will lead the business after the purchase, how much each existing investor sells and what Walmart’s final stake will be. It’s also possible that terms will change or the talks will fall apart.
The deal, if completed, will give Walmart a substantial foothold in an emerging market of 1.3 billion people. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is the world’s largest retailer, but it has struggled against Amazon as consumers migrate to online commerce. India is the next big potential prize after the U.S. and China, where foreign retailers have made little progress against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
“There isn’t another country with this kind of an opportunity,” said Satish Meena, a New Delhi-based senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research Inc.