China’s Alibaba Group is likely to pick up a stake in BigBasket, India’s largest online grocer. Alibaba through its investee firm Paytm is looking to invest $200 million in India’s largest online grocer, ET reports. The deal if and when it happens, will value BigBasket at $900 million a valuation it had been looking for since it began scouting for buyers earlier this year. Paytm’s e-commerce unit, Paytm Mall, has already begun due diligence on BigBasket. Also Read - Big Basket to announce new 1-hour delivery serviceAlso Read - RBI to set audit guidelines for Paytm Payments Bank: Report
Before Alibaba-Paytm surfaced, BigBasket had reportedly been in talks with Amazon for a sellout, but talks fell through owing to differences over valuation. BigBasket wanted a higher valuation than Amazon was prepared to give. The Bangalore-based e-grocer had also explored merger talks with rival Grofers, which is backed by Softbank. Amazon too its ramping up its grocery operations in India and has recently received a government approval for its proposed $500 million investment. Amazon can now start stocking goods and sell them directly. ALSO READ: Amazon gets government nod for proposed $500 million investment in food retail in India
Meanwhile, BigBasket is looking for additional investments from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek and China’s Fosun Group. It is believed that both firms have held preliminary talks with the Bengaluru-based startup. At present, BigBasket investors include Ascent Capital, Helion Venture Partners and Abraaj Group among others. In March 2016, it had raised $150 million from Abraaj at a valuation of $500 million. ALSO READ: Paytm might be investing in BigBasket to take on Amazon in online grocery
Alibaba and Amazon’s increasing interest in online grocery is concurrent with growth trends. India is the fifth largest e-grocery market ($140-150 million) in Asia Pacific, according to market research firm Euromonitor. While bigger markets like China, Japan are saturating, India is growing fast. “India will be the primary growth driver of online grocery retailing within Asia Pacific. This channel registered a value growth of 44 percent year-on-year basis in 2016, and is expected to continue being the fastest-growing for the next five years as well,” it said in a report.