Naspers sells stake in Flipkart

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Opposing the Walmart-Flipkart deal, RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Walmart was using the e-commerce route to circumvent the rules to attack the Indian market.

Masayoshi Son, chief executive of Japan's SoftBank, had earlier confirmed to reporters in Tokyo that the Walmart-Flipkart deal had been agreed.

Another significant exit is that of SoftBank, the largest investor in Flipkart. The deal values Flipkart at $20 billion, making it one of the successful startups in the past decade.

SoftBank acquired its stake in the company previous year through its Vision Fund investment arm. He has played a key role in launching Flipkart's private label "Billion" across electronics, appliances and apparel. Walmart's Walton family can afford to pay a premium for Flipkart.

ShopClues Co-founder & CEO Sanjay Sethi said, "This is also a great endorsement of the large opportunity that Indian market presents as well as the mettle of the Indian entrepreneur". While the deal was being watched by world leaders, back home there were voices of protest. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has committed more than $5 billion to grabbing a big slice of India's e-commerce pie after failing to make inroads in China.

Allowing foreign players into India's retail industry would give access to cheap capital and the domestic players would also gain from the scale and expertise of their global counterparts.

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Walmart's acquisition of homegrown online retailer Flipkart for Dollars 16 billion faced opposition from traders and an RSS affiliate, though industry body Assocham said it was a "salute" to the success of Indian start-ups.

"It would have been out of character for Amazon to write a check of that size to consolidate its market share in India, where it is already growing at a fast clip", Roosevelt's Benowitz said.

The report noted that as Amazon focused on fashion and grocery in 2017 and 2018, "Flipkart will find it hard to retain its edge in 2018".

The Flipkart-Walmart deal is the largest-ever in e-commerce, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The companies said the board makeup was yet to be decided but that Flipkart and Walmart would remain distinct brands.

The other co-founder Binny Bansal and other Flipkart shareholders will hold the remainder of the stake.

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Walmart cited estimates that online shopping in India will grow by 36% per year over the next five years. He served as Flipkart's CEO for nine years before taking on the role of chairman in January 2016.

In a call with investors, Walmart management reposed strong faith in the existing leadership at Flipkart and its subsidiaries including Myntra and PhonePe. Last year, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, previously an executive in Flipkart investor Tiger Global, took over as Flipkart CEO.

Experts says Walmart still has an uphill task of competing with Amazon, which it has struggled to do on its own home turf in the US.

If Walmart continues the same model and Flipkart complies with all conditions after acquisition there would no violation of FDI violation and the deal would not require any approval.

Shares of Walmart Inc. dropped more than 3 percent Wednesday as investors anxious about the investment hurting profits. "This investment aligns with our strategy and our goal is to contribute to India's success story, as we grow our business".

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