Tata Sons plans to buy a majority stake in Alibaba-backed online grocery seller BigBasket, a filing with the country’s antitrust body showed on Friday. The deal, if approved, would put Tata – a more than 150-year-old group with interests in everything from luxury cars to software – in direct competition with Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart, and an upstart grocery service from Reliance Industries, backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani. In the filing with the Competition Commission of India, Tata Digital Ltd, a wholly-owned unit of Tata Sons, proposed to buy 64.3 per cent of an entity that runs business-to-business sales for BigBasket.
Media agencies have reported that the group aims to take control of more than 60 per cent of BigBasket, buying out Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s stake. The proposal comes as e-commerce sales, especially of food and groceries, have exploded in India as the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a shift to online shopping. BigBasket’s rivals are expected to spend heavily on the e-grocery business.
Flipkart has announced plans to expand to more Indian cities, while Reliance’s digital unit – which is likely to support its grocery service – has raised more than $20 billion from investors including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google