The Amazon.com Inc. logo sits on a box as it passes under a scanner inside an Amazon.com Inc. fulfilment center. (Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg)

Amazon Closing In On Future Retail Stake Buy

Online retailer Amazon is in an advanced stage of talks to buy around 9.5 percent stake in the Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd., according to sources.

A final shape to an agreement between the two parties is expected to take place within the next 10 days, the sources said although in case of last-minute hurdles the deal could be announced as late as January 2019.

When contacted, Amazon declined to comment while messages sent to Future Group founder and Group Chief Executive Officer Kishore Biyani remained unanswered by the time of filing story.

According to a media report, the Amazon-Future Group deal is initially estimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore executed under foreign portfolio investor.

The agreement could also include Amazon buying out Biyani and promoter group's entire holding in the future subject to applicable regulations in India.

As of September 2018, promoter and promoter group had 46.51 percent share of Future Retail, which operates hypermarket and supermarket under brands which include- Big Bazaar, Easyday, Foodhall, HyperCity, FBB, Heritage fresh, ezone, and WH Smith.

It has a presence in 250 cities across the country.

Leading e-commerce major Amazon, which is looking to expand its presence in India, already has a stake in Shoppers Stop and More.

If the deal goes through, this would be the third investment by the U.S.-based company in the Indian brick-and-mortar retail ecosystem.

Last year, retail major Shoppers Stop had announced raising Rs 179.26 crore from Amazon through an issue of equity shares on preferential basis. The deal with Amazon.com Investment Holdings LLC translated into just over 5 percent shareholding for Amazon in Shoppers Stop.

In September this year, Amazon said it has co-invested in Witzig Advisory Services, the entity that is acquiring Aditya Birla Retail's 'more' chain of stores in India.

According to market watchers, this deal is expected to help Amazon strengthen its play in the Indian retail market that is still dominated by offline retailers. The move would also intensify competition further between Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart that are locked in an intense battle for leadership in the Indian e-commerce market.

The U.S.' largest retailer Walmart had picked up 77 percent stake in Flipkart for $16 billion, the largest deal in the Indian e-commerce space so far. Both Amazon and Flipkart are pumping in millions of dollars towards building infrastructure and expanding operations in the country.

Also read: Amazon Beats Flipkart To Become India’s Largest Online Retailer By Gross Sales