Amazon invests Rs 1,980 crore more in its Indian unit
Amazon has invested Rs 1,980 crore in its Indian unit, its second major capital infusion in a little over a month, as it steps up the pace of activity in the competitive online retail industry. This latest investment in Amazon Seller Services, made on January 28, according to filings with the ministry of corporate affairs, is the largest single infusion of capital by Amazon in India and follows the Rs 1,696 crore invested in December 2015.
“We are very pleased with the growth momentum we are witnessing in India,” said a representative for Amazon India in response to an ETquery on the investment. Ever since Jeff Bezos took the fight to Flipkart in July 2014 by revealing plans to invest $2 billion in Amazon’s India set-up, the firm has steadily poured in money.
Funds have been used to beef up services for Amazon’s merchants like warehousing, logistics and marketing. The firm has invested over Rs 6,700 crore since January 2015. ETreported in July 2015 that Amazon may invest about $5 billion in India.
Harminder Sahni, founder of Wazir Advisors, a retail consulting firm, said the investments are a sign of the importance of India in Amazon’s scheme of things. “Having won America but lost China, Amazon does not want to lose India,” he said. “Unlike (its) Indian rivals the US-based firm does not have to worry about valuation.”
Amazon India is locked in a battle for top honours in an industry expected to triple from $23 billion in FY16 to $68.8 billion by fiscal 2020, according to estimates from Goldman Sachs. Such growth has attracted global strategic investors such as Alibaba, which has picked up stakes in online retailers like Paytm and Snapdeal, but Amazon has been the most aggressive in directly expanding Indian operations.
Amazon India said that sellers on its platform sold more in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2015 than in all four quarters combined in 2014. The company has said that it added over 55,000 products per day, grew its seller base by 250% and expanded fulfilment infrastructure by 300% in 2015.
Its rivals are keenly aware of the threat posed by the American retailer. At a panel discussion during the Start Up India summit in Delhi on January 16, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha asked Sachin Bansal, cofounder of Flipkart, what he had to say on Amazon’s blank cheque to win India.
Bansal’s response was this: “As competition heats up in the market in any sector, the stakes of what it takes to compete in that space goes up. That is what we are seeing in the taxi space or the ecommerce space where international players have taken the stakes up. You will need a minimum set of funds to play in that space.” Flipkart, which has raised money from Tiger Global, and the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar and Singapore, is in talks with investors to raise about $1.4 billion, ET reported on January 7.
Snapdeal, in which Japan’s SoftBank is the biggest investor, is also looking to raise $300-500 million primarily for its FreeCharge unit.