Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate that sells almost everything from vehicles to clothes and steel, is trying to buy Indian online retailers to boost its presence in e-commerce, people who are familiar with the issue said.
For a possible stake purchase, the group reached out to IndiaMart InterMesh Ltd., a business-to – business marketplace, the individuals said, asking not to be named as the plans are confidential. The shares of IndiaMart increased 142 percent this year in Mumbai, giving it a market cap of about $2 billion. One of the individuals said that Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt., commonly known as BigBasket, is also among the possible investment goals of Tata.
Deliberations are at an early stage and there is no guarantee that the pursuit of the properties by Tata will lead to transactions, the individuals said. Tata’s discussions with BigBasket on Wednesday were confirmed by the Financial Times and The Economic Times on Thursday confirmed that Tata had initial discussions with IndiaMart.
Tata Group , which owns Jaguar Land Rover and tea maker Tetley, based in Mumbai, is scouting for local e-commerce properties at a time when the competition is heating up for Indian online shoppers. Although the JioMart of billionaire Mukesh Ambani aims to shake up the market dominated by Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. ‘s local divisions, Tata aims future acquisitions to close the gap with its rivals.
In order to modernise its online model, which is currently fragmented, Tata is adopting a two-pronged strategy. In addition to exploring acquisitions, it is also in negotiations with potential investors about taking stakes in a digital network it is developing, said last month by individuals familiar with the matter.
The digital platform of Tata will concentrate on an all-in-one e-commerce app that aims to put under one umbrella the diverse online businesses of its entrenched customer units. Tanishq jewellery stores, Titan watch showrooms, Star Bazaar supermarkets, Taj hotel chain, etc.
To Tata’s plans, the expansion of Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. into technology and retail companies has added urgency. This year, the tycoon, who is Asia’s richest man, earned more than $20 billion, selling 33 percent of his Jio Platforms Ltd. technology company to investors such as Facebook Inc. and Google. In the past two months, his Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd. has embarked on its own fundraising spree, mopping up $5.1 billion from private equity and sovereign wealth funds.