BENGALURU (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc is in talks to buy a 9.9% stake in the retail arm of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd, ET Now reported on Thursday, citing sources.
Amazon wants a preferred, strategic stake in Reliance Retail for JioMart, according to tweets by the television channel.
JioMart, the e-commerce venture of Reliance’s retail arm, was launched in May and poses a formidable challenge to Amazon.com’s local unit and Walmart Inc’s Flipkart.
Earlier this year, Amazon India launched a program to add small local shops on its platform after India went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
An Amazon spokeswoman through email said the company does not comment on speculation, while Reliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reliance, controlled by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has raised around $20 billion since late April for its digital arm, including from Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc.
It is also reported is that Amazon.com Inc’s India unit said it will open 10 new warehouses in the country and begin offering auto insurance, in moves that will help the e-commerce giant widen its reach in a key growth market.
With the expansion, Amazon will have over 60 warehouses or fulfilment centres across 15 Indian states with an area equivalent to more than 100 football fields, the company said in a blog post.
The new warehouses will be set up in 10 Indian cities including Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, it added.
India is one of the fastest-growing markets for US-based Amazon but one where it has also had to face regulatory hurdles, and a backlash from traders over accusations of offering discounts.
On Thursday, Amazon also said that its local payments arm, Amazon Pay, has partnered with private firm Acko General Insurance to offer car and motor-bike insurance. That makes India Amazon’s first market where it offers such a financial service.
The insurance is currently available on Amazon’s app and mobile website.
Customers of Amazon’s Prime loyalty program — which promises free movies and music streaming as well as faster deliveries for an annual 999 rupees ($13.36) — will get extra benefits and more discounts, Amazon said.
(Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru and Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Jason Neely and Hugh Lawson)