China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has initiated talks with Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Retail Ltd to form a mega Indian retail joint venture (JV), with an investment of at least $5 billion to challenge the dominance of Flipkart and Amazon in the world's fastest-growing economy.
Alibaba Group has proposed to acquire a large stake in Reliance Retail to create a behemoth in the digital marketplace and also expand Alibaba's physical retail businesses in India.
The talks indicate that the battle for India's booming e-commerce market may only intensify further, with two large and deep-pocketed companies planning to come together to take on the market leaders.
Alibaba's executive chairman, Jack Ma, met Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani in July-end in Mumbai to discuss the proposal. The two discussed several issues, including a plan to create a large omnichannel retail entity through the proposed joint venture.
The joint venture, if it goes through, will be the largest investment by Alibaba in an Indian company.
Reliance Retail, a unit of Reliance Industries Ltd, is the largest retailer in India in terms of revenue. Its retail outlets offer food, groceries, apparels, lifestyle and home-care products, consumer electronics, farm implements and so on.