Have Walmart, Flipkart Tied the Knot?

According to a report at Bloomberg, the board of directors of India’s Flipkart e-commerce website has agreed to sell a 75% stake in the company to Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) for about $15 billion. So far, neither Flipkart nor Walmart has confirmed the report.

The two parties have negotiated the deal for about a year now and, if the report pans out, Walmart would seal a victory over rival Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), which has also been wooing Flipkart in an effort to cement its position at the top of the heap in India’s massive market.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the proposed deal would include the sale of Softbank Group’s stake of over 20% in Flipkart at a valuation of $20 billion. A final agreement is expected within 10 days, the sources said, but they warned that the deal is not certain.

Flipkart is the leading e-commerce player in India and Amazon is number two. One could argue that it is more important for Walmart to win the bidding for Flipkart if the U.S. retail giant wants to have a reasonable shot at winning a leading position in the global e-commerce sector.

Neither Amazon nor Walmart has made much headway in China’s e-commerce sphere, where Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) dominates. That makes India the last mega-opportunity, and neither Walmart nor Amazon wants to lose it.

Walmart currently operates 21 Best Price stores in India that are open only to wholesale customers on a membership basis, much like Sam’s Club and Costco. The catch is that under Indian law the stores are open only to wholesalers, not retail customers. Although Walmart plans to open another 50 Best Price stores, the addition of Flipkart would dramatically speed up market growth in India.

Other current investors in Flipkart include Microsoft and Tencent, both of which would retain small stakes in Flipkart if Walmart succeeds. A source told Bloomberg that Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is “likely” to participate in the Walmart investment.

Walmart stock traded down about 0.2% early Friday, at $86.06 in a 52-week range of $73.13 to $109.98. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $105.40.

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