Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the world’s largest online shopping company, is said to be making its first big foray into India, with an investment in online payment services provider One97 Communications, Reuters reported.
One97 operates Paytm, an e-commerce platform where registered users can shop online, top up their mobile phone plans, buy movie or travel tickets and so on -- both on their computers and via a mobile app. E-Commerce sales totaled about $10 billion in 2014, according to Nomura.
Alibaba and its unit Alipay were in advanced talks to acquire between 30 percent and 40 percent of the Indian company, Reuters reported, citing unnamed persons directly involved in the negotiations. Reports said Alibaba would invests about $550 million in the company.
“We don't confirm speculation. Company is in process of raising money. We will communicate as and when we complete the process,” a spokeswoman for One97 said in an email response to a query by International Business Times on Tuesday.
India has some 250 million Internet users, a rapidly growing percentage of which is on smartphones, mostly running Google’s Android operating system. This has made the country, which is also on the cusp of expanding a nascent 4G network, more attractive to investors and businesses alike.
U.S. rideshare company Uber Inc. now operates in India, as does Japan’s SoftBank Corp., which took a stake last year in Ola Cabs, a local rival to Uber. Softbank has committed to investing $10 billion in India. Amazon Inc. said last year it will invest $2 billion in its Indian operations.
A federally backed broadband initiative that's taking the Internet to 250,000 village-level centers, on which private services providers will be allowed to piggyback, will also help increase online transactions in India by taking e-commerce beyond the cities.
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who visited India in November, has said the Chinese company will invest more in India, where businesses are already selling chocolates, spices and tea to some 400,000 consumers in China via Alibaba.