American retail giant Walmart is close to reaching an agreement over purchasing a significant stake in India's e-commerce platform Flipkart, Reuters reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with recent negotiations between the two. Walmart approached Flipkart to discuss taking a potential stake in the company no later than February and the talks between the firms appear to be progressing at a rapid pace, with a deal now being expected to be reached by the end of June. Naspers, Tiger Global, and Accel would all be likely to sell their existing stakes in Flipkart if the Indian company agrees to accept an investment from Walmart, according to previous reports.
Amazon is also understood to be interested in investing in the firm but major antitrust concerns stemming from the fact that Flipkart is by far its largest rival in India make such a move unlikely, industry insiders said earlier this month, claiming that the e-commerce juggernaut is still mulling over the idea of trying to outbid Walmart. Even if Amazon w0uld be unsuccessful in its attempt to take a stake in Flipkart, a formal approach alone would likely drive up the price of Walmart's investment, thus diminishing its potential returns. According to last week's reports, Walmart already offered to buy a 51-percent stake in Flipkart for between $10 billion to $12 billion and may even be prepared to purchase a larger share of the company. The American firm is understood to be aiming for a controlling stake in Flipkart and likely wouldn't agree to a deal that doesn't fulfill that requirement.
Walmart presently has a minor presence in India, a country that many industry watchers are predicting will evolve into one of the world's most valuable e-commerce markets in the medium term. Whereas Flipkart's reported suitor only has 21 stores in India and lacks a significant online operation, Flipkart itself holds close to 40-percent of the country's online shopping market, with Amazon accounting for another 30-percent of the thereof, according to recent estimates.