India approves Reliance’s $3.4 billion deal with Future Group, brings a new headache to Amazon

The Indian watchdog said on Friday it has approved the $3.4 billion deal between the nation’s two largest retail giants, Future Group and Reliance Retail, posing a new headache for American e-commerce group Amazon in the key overseas market.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the Indian watchdog, said in a brief statement that it had approved the proposed acquisition of retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing businesses of Future Group, India’s second largest retail chain, by Reliance Retail, the largest.

Reliance Retail and Future Group announced their proposed deal, worth $3.4 billion, in late August. Amazon, which owns a stake in a Future Group’s subsidiary, has protested the deal, alleging the Indian firm of engaging in insider trading and violating contracts.

Late last month, a Singapore arbitration court issued an order to temporarily halt the deal between the two Indian retail giants, but it has been unclear ever since how much water that order holds in India. Shortly after the court issued the order, Future Group and Reliance Retail said they were working to complete their deal “without any delay.”

Friday’s announcement is crucial. Amazon, which has invested over $6.5 billion in its India business, had requested the CCI and SEBI, the regulator of the securities and commodity market in India, to consider Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s order and block the deal.

Future Group is currently fighting with Amazon in a court in Delhi, where a lawyer for the Indian firm has used bizarre language to charge the American firm. On several occasions, the lawyer has likened Amazon’s effort to block Future Group’s deal to the East India Company, the British trading house whose arrival in India kicked off nearly 200 years of colonial rule.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

More to follow…

#amazon, #amazon-india, #asia, #ecommerce, #future-group, #government, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance, #reliance-retail

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Reliance Retail buys Urban Ladder for $24.4 million

Reliance Retail has acquired a majority stake in furniture and decor platform Urban Ladder, making a broader push into e-commerce as the largest retail chain in India gears up to fight Amazon and Flipkart.

In a filing to the local stock exchange, Reliance Retail said it had acquired a 96% stake in Urban Ladder for about $24.43 million. The Indian retail giant, which retains the option to acquire the remainder stake in the seven-and-a-half-years-old startup, said it has proposed to invest up to $10.06 million more in Urban Ladder by December 2023.

Founded in early 2012, Urban Ladder sells home furniture and decor products online. It also operates a chain of physical retail stores in several Indian cities. The deal size suggests that it was a fire sale.

The startup had raised about $115 million from Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners, Steadview Capital, and MIT and other investors, according to Crunchbase and Tracxn. In the financial year that ended in March, the Indian startup reported a loss of $6.63 million on a turnover of $58.2 million.

Reliance Retail said (PDF) the investment “will further enable the group’s digital and new commerce initiatives and widen the bouquet of consumer products provided by the group, while enhancing user engagement and experience across its retail offerings.”

Urban Ladder is the latest acquisition for Reliance Retail, which earlier this year said it had entered into a $3.4 billion deal with Future Group to buy several of India’s second largest retail chain’s businesses. In August, Reliance acquired a 60% stake in pharma marketplace Netmeds’ parent firm Vitalic for about $83.2 million.

Reliance Retail, which is part of Reliance Industries (India’s most valued firm), has raised about $6.4 billion in recent months after its sister subsidiary, Jio Platforms, secured over $20 billion this year from Facebook and Google among other high-profile investors.

Reliance Retail, which serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country, entered the e-commerce space with JioMart through a joint venture with Jio Platforms. JioMart now has a presence in over 200 Indian cities and towns, and it also maintains a partnership with Facebook for WhatsApp integration.

#amazon, #amazon-india, #asia, #ecommerce, #flipkart, #fundings-exits, #india, #reliance-retail, #urban-ladder, #walmart

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Reliance Retail raises $1.3 billion from PIF

The Public Investment Fund, which has this year invested $1.5 billion in Mukesh Ambani’s telecom venture Jio Platforms and more than half a billion dollars in his fiber-optic business, has returned to back yet another empire built by India’s richest man.

The sovereign wealth fund is investing $1.3 billion in Reliance Retail for a 2.04% equity stake in the largest retail chain in India. The investment values Reliance Retail, which was founded in 2006, at $62.4 billion (up from about $58 billion last month), the Indian firm said.

Reliance Retail, which serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country, has now raised over 6.4 billion since September this year.

“We at Reliance have a long-standing relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. PIF is at the forefront of the economic transformation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I welcome PIF as a valued partner in Reliance Retail and look forward to their sustained support and guidance as we continue our ambitious journey to transform India’s retail sector for enriching the lives of 1.3 billion Indians and millions of small merchants,” said Ambani, who runs Reliance Retail’s parent firm, Reliance Industries, in a statement. 

More to follow…

#asia, #funding, #india, #jio-platforms, #reliance-industries, #reliance-retail

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Reliance says its $3.4 billion deal with Future Group ‘fully enforceable under Indian law’ despite Amazon winning an arbitration order

Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, said on Sunday evening that its proposed deal to acquire Future Group’s assets for $3.4 billion — against which Amazon has filed a legal proceeding — is fully enforceable under the Indian law and it intends to complete the deal “without any delay.”

Mukesh Ambani’s firm issued the statement after Amazon won an emergency order from a Singapore arbitration panel to temporarily halt the proposed sale between the two Indian retail giants.

The American e-commerce group, which indirectly bought a 3.58% stake in Future Group’s Future Retail business last year, reached out to a Singapore arbitration panel over the multi-billion dollar proposed deal.

Amazon’s deal with Future Retail had given the American e-commerce giant the first right to refusal on purchase of more stakes in Future Retail, the Indian firm had said at the time. Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart, and Reliance Industries, the most valuable firm in India, are locked in an intense battle to shape how hundreds of millions of Indians would shop in the future.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said the company was “grateful for the order which grants all the reliefs that were sought. We remain committed to an expeditious conclusion of the arbitration process.”

At the moment, it is unclear whether today’s injunction is enforceable in India. Indeed, in a statement, a Reliance Industry spokesperson said that Reliance Retail’s transaction for acquisition of assets and business of Future Retail were conducted under “proper legal advice” and the “rights and obligations are fully enforceable under Indian law.”

Reliance Retail “intends to enforce its rights and complete the transaction in terms of the scheme and agreement with Future group without any delay,” the spokesperson added.

The legal proceeding in Singapore has come as a surprise to many in the industry, as Amazon is said to be preparing to acquire a multi-billion-dollar stake in Reliance Retail, according to earlier reports by ET Now and Bloomberg.

With e-commerce commanding only between 3 -7% of all retail sales in India — and Reliance Retail launching its own e-commerce business to fight Amazon and Flipkart — Amazon’s reported future deal with Reliance Retail is already been seen by many industry analysts as crucial for the American e-commerce firm’s future in India. Amazon, which kickstarted its journey in India seven years ago, has invested more than $6.5 billion in its local business in the country.

Founded in 2006, Reliance Retail serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 12,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country.

The retail chain, run by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has raised about $5.14 billion by selling about an 8.5% stake in its business to Silver Lake, Singapore’s GIC, General Atlantic and others in the past two months.

Ambani’s other venture, Jio Platforms, this year raised over $20 billion from more than a dozen marquee investors, including Google and Facebook.

 

#amazon, #asia, #ecommerce, #flipkart, #future-group, #india, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance-industries, #reliance-retail, #walmart

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Amazon sends legal notice to India’s Future Group over deal with Ambani’s Reliance Retail

Amazon has sent a legal notice to Future Retail, India’s second largest retail chain, for breaching the terms of its contract by selling a significant portion of the business to Ambani’s Reliance Retail.

Future Group announced in late August that it was selling its retail and wholesale business, as well as its logistics and warehousing business to Reliance Retail for $3.4 billion.

But before Reliance Retail came into the picture, Future Group and Amazon also had a deal.

Last year, Amazon acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons, a group entity owned by Future Group’s retail business. The deal gave Amazon a 3.58% stake in Future Retail, and the right of first refusal to purchase more stake in Future Retail both directly as well as via entities, Future Group said in a filing at the time.

According to TV network ET Now, which first reported about the legal notice, the deal between Amazon and Future Retail also restricted the Indian firm from entering into a deal with certain firms.

Future Group, which kickstarted its journey as a stonewashed-fabric seller in the 1980s, served millions of customers through more than 1,500 stores in more than 400 cities as of earlier this year.

The legal notice has puzzled many in India, as Amazon is reportedly preparing to acquire a multi-billion-dollar stake in Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, according to earlier reports by ET Now and Bloomberg.

With e-commerce commanding only between 3 to 7% of all retail sales in India — and Reliance Retail launching its own e-commerce business to fight Amazon and Flipkart — Amazon’s deal with Reliance Retail is seen as crucial for the American e-commerce firm’s future in India by many industry analysts. Amazon, which kickstarted its journey in India seven years ago, has invested over $6.5 billion in its local business in the country.

Amazon confirmed that it had filed a legal notice. Reliance Retail and Future Group did not comment. As of Wednesday midnight (local time), Future Group had not disclosed the notice on the stock exchange.

Founded in 2006, Reliance Retail serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 12,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country.

The retail chain, run by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, has raised about $5.14 billion by selling about an 8.5% stake in its business to Silver Lake, Singapore’s GIC, General Atlantic and others in the past four weeks.

Ambani’s other venture, Jio Platforms, this year raised over $20 billion from more than a dozen marquee investors including Google and Facebook.

#amazon, #amazon-india, #asia, #future-group, #india, #reliance-retail

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Ambani sells over $750 million Reliance Retail stake to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which invested $750 million in Indian telecom giant Jio Platforms in June this year, has returned to invest just as much capital in Mukesh Ambani’s other venture.

Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, said on Tuesday that it is selling a 1.2% stake in the business to Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for about $752 million. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is the seventh investor to secure a stake in Reliance Retail — at a pre-money valuation of $58.5 billion — in the past one month.

Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (India’s most valuable firm), has raised about $5.14 billion by selling about 8.5% stake in its business to Silver Lake, Singapore’s GIC, General Atlantic and others. Mukesh Ambani, who controls Reliance Industries, said in July that he was looking to sell stakes in Reliance Retail to investors. Earlier this year, Jio Platforms raised about $20 billion from more than a dozen high-profile investors including Facebook and Google.

Founded in 2006, Reliance Retail serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 12,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country. Reliance Retail operates supermarkets, electronics chain, fashion outlets and a cash-and-carry wholesaler. In recent months, the firm has rushed to widen its dominance in the retail market. It bought several parts of Future Group, India’s second largest retail chain, for $3.4 billion in late August.

Late last year, it also entered the e-commerce space with JioMart. JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail and Jio Platforms, has presence in over 200 Indian cities and towns, and maintains a partnership with Facebook for WhatsApp integration. Facebook, which invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year, has said it will explore various ways to work with Reliance to digitize the nation’s 60 million mom and pop stores as well as other small and medium-sized businesses.

“Reliance Retail has rapidly established itself as one of the leading retail businesses in India and, by leveraging both its physical and digital supply chains, is strongly positioned for further growth. This investment is consistent with our strategy of investing in market leading businesses in Asia linked to the region’s consumption-driven growth and rapid technological advancement,” said Hamad Shahwan Aldhaheri, Executive Director of the Private Equities Department at ADIA, in a statement.

Physical retail commands about 97% of all retail sales in India, according to estimates from several research firms.

#asia, #funding, #india, #jio-platforms, #reliance-industries, #reliance-retail, #tc

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Singapore’s GIC and TPG to invest $1 billion in Reliance Retail

GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, will invest $752 million in Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail, and TPG will invest $250 million in the Indian firm, they all said Saturday midnight (local time).

The Government of Singapore Investment Corp and TPG are the latest high-profile investors to back Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, in the past four weeks. Reliance Retail — like its sister sibling Jio Platforms — is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable firm.

GIC’s andd TPG’s investments give Reliance Retail a pre-money valuation of $58.5 billion, the Indian firm said. GIC, which has backed firms in over 40 nations, will get a 1.22% equity stake in the retail giant, while TPG will secure 0.41% stake, they said.

The announcement today caps a busy week for Reliance Retail, which in the past three days has revealed that Mubadala ($855 million for a 1.4% stake), Silver Lake ($254 million for a 0.38% stake), and General Atlantic ($498 million for a 0.84% stake) would also be investing in it.

In total, investors have committed about $4.4 billion in Reliance Retail in the current fundraising spree. (Silver Lake committed to invest another $1 billion in Reliance Retail last month, and KKR has announced it would invest about $754 million.)

Reliance Retail, founded in 2006, serves more than 3.5 million customers each week (as of early this year) through its nearly 12,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns in the country. Physical retail commands about 97% of all retail sales in India, according to estimates from several research firms.

“We believe Reliance Retail will continue to use its extensive supply chain and store networks, as well as strong logistics and data infrastructure, to add value to its customers and shareholders,” said Lim Chow Kiat, CEO of GIC, in a statement.

Reliance Retail operates supermarkets, electronics chain, fashion outlets, and a cash-and-carry wholesaler. In recent months, the firm has rushed to widen its dominance in the retail market. It bought several parts of Future Group, India’s second largest retail chain, for $3.4 billion in late August.

Late last year, it also entered the e-commerce space with JioMart. JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail and Jio Platforms, has presence in over 200 Indian cities and towns and maintains a partnership with Facebook for a WhatsApp integration.

Facebook, which invested $5.7 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year, has it will explore various ways to work with Reliance to digitize the nation’s 60 million mom and pop stores as well as other small and medium-sized businesses.

Jio Platforms has raised more than $20 billion in India this year from a roster of marquee investors including Facebook, Google, General Atlantic, Mubadala, Silver Lake, and KKR. Some industry executives have argued that investments in Jio Platforms make no business case and is largely foreign firms’ push to get friendly with Ambani, India’s richest man and an ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I am delighted that GIC, with its track record of close to four decades of successful long-term value investing across the world, is partnering with Reliance Retail in its mission to transform the Indian retail landscape. GIC’s global network and track record of long-term partnerships will be invaluable to the transformation story of Indian Retail. This investment is a strong endorsement of our strategy and India’s potential,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, in a statement.

The story was updated at 2.15 am IST to include details about TPG’s investment.

#amazon, #asia, #funding, #gic, #india, #jio-platforms, #reliance-retail

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Reliance Retail to raise $1 billion from Silver Lake

Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s retail venture Reliance Retail said on Wednesday it will raise $1.02 billion from Silver Lake, kickstarting a fundraising spree months after its sister venture Jio Platforms raised $20 billion earlier this year.

The investment in Reliance Retail will grant Silver Lake a 1.75% equity stake in India’s largest retail chain. The deal values Reliance Retail at $57 billion pre-money, its parent firm Reliance Industries said in a statement.

Reliance Retail, which last month acquired several parts of Future Group (India’s second largest retail chain), has 12,000 stores across the country. In the financial year that ended in March, it reported a net profit of $726.4 million. In recent quarters, Oil-to-retail giant Reliance Industries has looked to further expand the reach of Reliance Retail by entering e-commerce space.

JioMart, a joint venture between Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, has presence across 200 cities and towns in India.

“The success of JioMart in such a short time span, especially while India, along with the rest of the world, battles the COVID-19 pandemic, is truly unprecedented, and the most exciting growth phase has just begun. Reliance’s New Commerce strategy could become the disruptor of this decade. We are thrilled to have been invited to partner with Reliance in their mission for Indian Retail,” said Egon Durban, Co-CEO and Managing Partner of Silver Lake, in a statement.

Today’s announcement widens the bet Silver Lake has made on Ambani, India’s richest man. The Menlo Park-headquartered PE firm also invested $1.35 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year. On Tuesday, it led a $500 million investment round in Indian edtech giant Byju’s.

“I am delighted to extend our relationship with Silver Lake to our transformational efforts of building an inclusive partnership with millions of small merchants while providing value to Indian consumers across the country in the Indian retail sector. We believe technology will be key to bringing the much-needed transformation in this sector so that various constituents of the retail ecosystem can collaborate to build inclusive growth platforms. Silver Lake will be an invaluable partner in implementing our vision for Indian Retail,” said Ambani in a statement.

#asia, #funding, #india, #reliance-jio, #reliance-retail, #silver-lake

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India’s Reliance Retail to acquire Future Group’s retail, wholesale, and logistics businesses for $3.4 billion

Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, has found a much simpler way to expand its dominant position in the country: Acquire most of the second largest chain’s units.

On Saturday evening (local Indian time), Reliance Retail said it has reached an agreement with Future Group to acquire the latter’s retail and wholesaler business, and its logistics and warehousing business for $3.4 billion.

The announcement today further complicates the future of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart in India where e-commerce sill accounts for just 3% of all retail sales. Amazon, which was also in talks to acquire stakes in Future Group, last year bought a tiny portion of Future Group’s business. In January this year, the American e-commerce firm said it had also inked a deal with Future Group to help the Indian firm sell online.

Mukesh Ambani, who controls Reliance Industries (of which Reliance Retail is a subsidiary), has secured about $20 billion from Facebook, Google, and 11 other high-profile investors for his telecom venture Jio Platforms this year.

Now Ambani, who is India’s richest man, has set his eyes on e-commerce. Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail last year announced JioMart. The e-commerce venture, which began test trials in select suburbs of Mumbai late last year, has expanded to more than 200 cities and towns across India.

“With this transaction, we are pleased to provide a home to the renowned formats and brands of Future Group as well as preserve its business ecosystem, which have played an important role in the evolution of modern retail in India. We hope to continue the growth momentum of the retail industry with our unique model of active collaboration with small merchants and kiranas as well as large consumer brands. We are committed to continue providing value to our consumers across the country,” said Isha Ambani, Director at Reliance Retail, in a statement.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

#asia, #ecommerce, #fundings-exits, #india, #mukesh-ambani, #reliance-retail

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India’s Reliance Retail acquires a majority stake in online pharmacy Nedmeds for $83.2M

Reliance Retail has bought a 60% stake in pharma marketplace Netmeds for about $83.2 million, it said today as India’s largest retail chain looks to expand into new categories and compete more closely with American e-commerce group Amazon.

The all-cash deal valued Netmeds, which serves 5.7 million customers in more than 670 cities and towns and online, at about $134 million. Consumers get access to more than 70,000 prescription drugs for chronic and recurring ailments as well as enhanced lifestyle drugs and thousands of non-prescription goods for wellness, health, and personal care through Netmeds.

“This investment is aligned with our commitment to provide digital access for everyone in India. The addition of Netmeds enhances Reliance Retail’s ability to provide good quality and affordable health care products and services, and also broadens its digital commerce proposition to include most daily essential needs of consumers,” said Isha Ambani, Director of Reliance Retail, in a statement.

Reliance Retail, like its sister telecom venture Jio Platforms, is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, the most valued firm in India. Reliance Industries is run by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man.

The announcement late Tuesday evening (local time) comes days after Amazon struck a deal with NetMeds, 1mg, PharmEasy and Medlife to sell medicines online in Bangalore. It was the first time Amazon had expanded into this category, it said. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telemedicine and pharma marketplaces in the country, analysts said.

Online sales of medicine in India, for which New Delhi currently does not have clear regulations, presents yet another major opportunity for Reliance Retail, which has expanded its new e-commerce venture — called JioMart — to more than 200 cities and towns in the recent quarters.

Local media has reported that Reliance is also in talks to acquire online furniture store Urban Ladder, milk delivery startup MilkBasket and Bangalore-based lingerie maker Zivame. TechCrunch reported last week that Reliance Industries was also in talks to acquire the India business of TikTok.

More to follow…

#amazon, #amazon-india, #apps, #asia, #funding, #health, #india, #reliance-retail

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Amazon launches online pharmacy in India

Amazon has launched an online pharmacy in Bangalore, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, as the e-commerce group looks to spread its tentacles in more categories in one of its key overseas markets.

The company said on Friday its new service, called Amazon Pharmacy, has started accepting orders for both over-the-counter and prescription-based medicines in Bangalore. (In India, antibiotics and several other drugs can often be purchased from pharmacies without prescriptions.)

Amazon Pharmacy is also selling traditional herbal medicines and some health devices such as glucose meters, nebulisers, and handheld massagers.

“This is particularly relevant in present times as it will help customers meet their essential needs while staying safe at home,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

Online sales of medicine in India, for which New Delhi currently does not have clear regulations, presents yet another major opportunity for Amazon that has invested more than $6.5 million to date into its India operations and where it competes with Walmart-owned Flipkart.

For Amazon, pharmacy is not a new idea. The company, which has hired several health experts in recent years, acquired online pharmacy startup PillPack for nearly $1 billion in 2018.

Scores of startups such as 1mg, Netmeds, Medlife, and PharmEasy currently sell medicines in India online and deliver to most parts of the country. 1mg, which has raised more than $170 million, today delivers orders in more than a 1,000 cities in the country, for instance.

These startups, as with any e-commerce player, offer enticing discounts to customers on each order to increase their market share. On that front, Amazon says it is also offering up to 20% discount on all orders.

In recent months, Amazon has expanded into a handful of new categories in India. It launched its food delivery service in parts of Bangalore in May and received approval to sell and deliver alcohol in the state of West Bengal a month later.

Last month, the company started to sell auto-insurance in India and said it planned to expand its insurance service to offer coverage on health, flight and cabs in the future.

Its expansion into more categories comes as Flipkart is also entering new spaces including hyperlocal delivery that it piloted in Bangalore late last month.

Both the firms are now facing an emerging challenger: India’s richest man. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail, the largest retail chain in India, began testing e-commerce venture JioMart late last year.

The service, which is now operational in over 200 cities and towns across India, reported selling over 400,000 orders a day last month, surpassing daily peak figures of grocery delivery startups BigBasket and Grofers.

Local media has reported that Amazon is eyeing a multi-billion dollar stake in Reliance Retail. Ambani’s other venture, telecoms giant Jio Platforms, has raised about $20 billion from Facebook, Google, and 11 other high-profile investors in recent months. Ambani said last month that the company had concluded fundraise for Jio Platforms and is looking forward to “induct global partners and investors in Reliance Retail in the next few quarters.”

#amazon, #amazon-india, #apps, #asia, #ecommerce, #flipkart, #india, #jiomart, #mukesh-ambani, #online-pharmacy, #pharmacy, #reliance-jio, #reliance-retail, #walmart

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