This article was originally posted on Recode.net by
Walmart announced on Wednesday that it will buy a majority stake in India’s Flipkart e-commerce company, setting off a new chapter in its rivalry with Amazon, which has identified the world’s second-most populous country as the emerging international market of the future that it must win.
Walmart will pay $16 billion for a 77 percent stake in the company and says it will support Flipkart’s goal of eventually going public as a majority-owned subsidiary. Some Flipkart investors — including co-founder Binny Bansal, Tencent and Tiger Global — will continue to hold stakes in the company.
In its most recent fiscal year, Flipkart net sales grew more than 50 percent to $4.6 billion, but the company registers heavy losses as it battles Amazon for supremacy in the fast-growing e-commerce market.
If the deal were to close in the second quarter, Walmart said its earnings per share would be negatively impacted by 25 cents to 30 cents. Walmart expects that negative impact to grow to around 60 cents per share in the next fiscal year as it ramps up investment in the company.
“With the investment, Flipkart will leverage Walmart’s omni-channel retail expertise, grocery and general merchandise supply-chain knowledge and financial strength, while Flipkart’s talent, technology, customer insights and agile and innovative culture will benefit Walmart in India and across the globe,” Walmart said in a release.
Flipkart was founded in 2007 and for many years was the leaders in India’s small but fast-growing e-commerce market, raising north of $7 billion in total to fund its growth. But Amazon’s entry into the country in 2013 has led to a fierce, cash-burning fight to become the dominant player in India.
Amazon has publicized investments of more than $5 billion into its India business as it supplants China as its most important long-term international market. Amazon has said that more people joined Amazon Prime in India in its first year of availability there than in any other new Prime-eligible country.
Between the Flipkart and Jet.com acquisitions, Walmart has now agreed to pay more than $19 billion combined for unprofitable businesses in order to become more competitive in online commerce in the U.S. and India. That’s the price the giant brick-and-mortar retailer must play for treating online sales as a side hobby for so long.
Walmart’s stock was down 4 percent in morning trading.