SoftBank, which was holding out for an offer from Amazon, has agreed to Flipkart sale to Walmart.
Bengaluru/New Delhi: Walmart Inc., the world’s largest retailer, is in final negotiations to buy a majority stake in Flipkart Ltd even as a rival combination of Flipkart and Amazon looks increasingly unlikely, three people familiar with the matter said.
Walmart and some Flipkart investors, including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., are yet to agree on the final details and a deal could take at least a month to be signed, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
SoftBank, Flipkart’s largest shareholder, was pushing other investors to wait for a rival offer for Flipkart from Amazon. But the Japanese company has now agreed to sell the online retailer to Walmart as all the other key shareholders, including Tiger Global Management, Naspers and Accel Partners, were firm in their preference for Walmart, the people said.
Walmart will buy at least 55% of Flipkart in a deal that will value the company at $20-21 billion, the people said. Walmart will get a majority of its stake by purchasing shares from existing Flipkart investors at a discount to the $20-21 billion tag, they said.
The transaction could be structured in such a way that Walmart increases its ownership in Flipkart over time, they said. Depending on how much Flipkart investors decide to sell, Walmart’s initial stake could be higher than 55%. The American retailer could end up spending anywhere between $8 billion and $12 billion to buy the stake, the people said.
Walmart also wants Flipkart co-founders Binny Bansal (group chief executive officer) and Sachin Bansal (executive chairman) and CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy to continue in their roles after the acquisition, the people said.
Binny Bansal and Krishnamurthy, a former executive at Flipkart’s most influential shareholder Tiger Global Management, are likely to continue in their current roles after the deal, the people said. Sachin Bansal hasn’t yet taken a decision on his future or how much stock he will sell in the proposed deal but he is also likely to stay on, the people said.
Flipkart didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. Walmart declined to comment.
The Walmart-Flipkart negotiations have been reported by Mint and other publications for several months now. The Economic Times newspaper first reported about the negotiations in January, although it had said that the deal would be a minority investment.
In late 2016, initial talks between Walmart and Flipkart stalled and Flipkart went on to raise $3 billion in two funding rounds from Tencent, SoftBank, eBay and Microsoft.
If the proposed deal with Flipkart goes through, it will be one of Walmart’s top two acquisitions. Walmart’s biggest buy to date is its $10.8 billion purchase in 1999 of British retail chain Asda (which it has now agreed to sell to British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s). The firm has been on an acquisition spree over the past 18 months. It bought Jet.com for $3.3 billion in August 2016. It has also purchased two other online retailers, Bonobos and ShoeBuy, as well as Parcel Inc., an e-commerce logistics provider.
The acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart will be an extension of its domestic battle with arch rival Amazon, whose expansion is the biggest threat to the retail icon.