In the next year, Walmart may invest $3 billion in India-based, Amazon rival Flipkart by purchasing new shares at the same price as the purchase transaction, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The all-cash deal is groundbreaking as the world’s largest e-commerce transaction, in which Walmart will buy $2 billion new shares and a stake worth $14 billion from Flipkart investors. Amazon, meanwhile, has invested $2 billion in June 2014 and $3 billion in June 2016 in India.
Quartz reports that, “the deal, which still needs regulatory approvals in India, has to close by March 09, 2019, failing which it could be terminated, as per the SEC filing.” Two trade organizations in India have voiced opposition to the deal: Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Hindu nationalist association, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); and Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalin Peramaippu, a federation of traders in Tamil Nadu.
With the cash infusion, Walmart also takes the lead on Flipkart’s new board, with five directors out of the total of eight members, one of who will reportedly be Sam Walton’s grandson Steuart Walton. Quartz says, “other minority shareholders will get to nominate two directors, aside from co-founder Binny Bansal who will continue to be one of the board members.”
The SEC filing also states that, “Walmart will have a veto right over specified decisions relating to Flipkart’s business and activities,” and “will also have the final word on the appointment or removal of the top executives at Flipkart and its group companies, PhonePe and Ekart.” Within four years of the completion of the Flipkart deal, Walmart plans an IPO for the company, “at a valuation no less than that paid by Walmart,” states the SEC filing. The IPO would bring to fruition speculations that date back to 2015.
Recode breaks down the risk of Walmart’s purchase of 77 percent of Flipkart, noting that “Wall Street investors did not react favorably to the move, sending Walmart shares down as much as 4 percent during the day.”
“Some of the big questions hanging over the proposed deal include why Walmart wouldn’t instead use some of these funds to try to narrow its massive gap behind Amazon in the U.S., and whether Walmart really gives Flipkart an advantage in India to help it win long-term.”
In five charts, Recode demonstrated that India’s size — second only to China — and growing middle-class spending dwarf the size of the U.S. market. According to eMarketer, in 2017, households “in India spent $21 billion on e-commerce, making it the 10th-biggest e-commerce market in the world.” “India,” it concludes, “has overtaken China as Amazon’s most important international market, as displayed by discussions on its earning calls.”