Reuters reported that Walmart is in advanced talks with India’s largest eCommerce firm, which also happens to be Amazon’s biggest competitor in the country. Anonymous sources said a deal could be completed as early as March.
Both Walmart and Flipkart declined to comment. But according to Economic Times, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon led a team to Flipkart's Bengaluru office early last week, along with Walmart eCommerce CEO Marc Lore and Judith McKenna, who will take over as president and CEO of Walmart International on February 1.
Sources said that as part of the deal, which would involve primary and secondary sales by longstanding investors, Walmart may acquire a 15 to 20 percent stake in Flipkart.
Flipkart was valued at $14.2 billion in August last year, when SoftBank reportedly bought around an 18 percent stake for $2.6 billion.
This isn’t the first time reports of a deal between the two companies have surfaced. In 2016, there was speculation that Walmart was in talks to acquire a minority stake in Flipkart, as well as invest anywhere from $750 million to $1 billion in the company.
“With Amazon slowly taking a lead over the Indian players, all these unicorns, including Flipkart and Snapdeal, are out there in the market to raise funds,” the source said in a report at the time. “Companies like Walmart would be more long-term investors, but there aren’t too many like them to write such big checks.”
This wouldn’t be Walmart’s only recent acquisition. It acquired Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016, and bought 15 startups over five years to boost talent and technology in an effort to better compete with Amazon. India is a key market for both retailers, with Amazon pledging to invest $5 billion.
"For Walmart, India is an exciting and priority market," a company spokesperson said. "Walmart is deeply committed and proud of creating shared value for local communities, kiranas, small farmers and our local supplier partners in India."