India-based Reliance Industries, one of the country’s biggest conglomerates, has offered to sell a stake of around $20 billion in its lucrative retail business to Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Report, potentially paving the way for Amazon to anchor itself in one of the world’s biggest consumer retail markets.
Bloomberg reported that Reliance’s Retail Ventures unit has expressed interest in negotiating a potential transaction that would offload as much as a 40% stake in the subsidiary to Amazon, Bloomberg said, citing a source familiar with the discussions.
A successful deal would make Amazon an instant retail behemoth in India, a country known for its massive consumer base that remains focused on buying on-the-street local and in person rather than online and via delivery.
It would also turn Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and Reliance owner and billionaire Mukesh Ambani, the sixth-richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, from rivals to allies and partners.
Specifically for Amazon, a deal with Reliance would allow it to partner an existing retail operator that already has a brick-and-mortar, boots-on-the-ground presence in India, where online shopping remains in its infancy.
For Reliance, a deal would put it a step closer to becoming India’s one-stop shop for all things e-commerce, similar to China’s Alibaba Group (BABA) - Get Report. It also follows a similar $20 billion deal with Reliance’s digital-service and telecomm provider - Jio Platforms - to FaceBook (FB) - Get Report and Alphabet-owned Google (GOOGL) - Get Report.
Google in July confirmed plans to invest $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, the country's largest and most pervasive mobile and internet company that has more than 400 million subscribers. That followed Facebook's April confirmation that it invested $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in Jio.
Reliance Retail runs supermarkets, India’s largest consumer electronics chain store, a cash and carry wholesaler, fast-fashion outlets and an online grocery store called JioMart. It reported 1.63 trillion rupees ($22 billion) in sales in the year through March.
Shares of Amazon were up 0.77% at $3,293.70 in trading on Thursday.