Flipkart, that has been projecting itself as an “Indian company” and a home-grown success story such as Infosys, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and Airtel, received a backer from an unexpected quarter — Kishore Biyani.
“In that sense, yes, they are Indian if you look at likewise comparisons,” with Infosys and ICICI Bank among others, Biyani said.
Last month, in a response to ET, Flipkart had said it is as Indian as the other domestic entrepreneurial mascots. “Flipkart is as homegrown and Indian as an Infosys, HDFC or ICICI, which also have significant foreign capital invested in them,” the company told ET when asked if their observations on the debate of Indian versus foreign players in ecommerce are misplaced.
Flipkart’s co-founder Sachin Bansal and Ola cab-hailing founder Bhavish Aggarwal have been positioning themselves as Indian companies though both are majority owned by foreign funds. Flipkart and Ola have been on the forefront asking for a level playing field for local companies pitted against multinational rivals such as Amazon and Uber.
“Another big thing that is happening across the world is the rise of anti-globalisation… It was all the time in China and the US, selective globalisation rather. I meant there should be level-playing field,” Bansal had said at a conference in February. “What we need to figure out is how do we create a level-playing field. How do we ensure news or restaurant apps don’t get prematurely killed by a company coming from China and just pumping in dollars from there. It should be about technology and appreciation of the product,” he had said.
Market-watchers say Indian shareholding in Flipkart, that is majority owned by foreign funds and companies, may have fallen further after eBay, Tencent, and Microsoft recently injected $1.4 billion into the country’s largest e-commerce company that operates an eponymous marketplace as well online fashion portals of Myntra and Jabong.
Biyani has otherwise been a staunch opponent of ecommerce business in India for their alleged circumvention of FDI rules and had accused marketplace operators such as Amazon and Flipkart of using just smart accounting practices while conducting actual retailing.
“They (online retailers) sell to consumers. They are violating the law (on overseas investment) in spirit and in letter,” the founder of the Future Group.