The Competition Commission of India has asked for details from private equity firm Samara Capital on the role of online retailer Amazon and how its proposed acquisition of More supermarkets would be compliant with the revised foreign direct investment (FDI) policy in e-commerce.
More supermarket chain is owned by Aditya Birla Retail Limited (ABRL). The Indian Government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) issued revised FDI policy on 26 December 2018.
Two senior industry executives with knowledge of the matter told The Economic Times that the watchdog’s queries to Samara Capital-owned Witzig Advisory Services were related to the role of the online retailer in More’s daily operations. This is in addition to information on its representation on the board and if More would be integrated into the Amazon India marketplace.
The watchdog also sought the structure of the proposed deal and how it would be in line with the revised FDI rules.
According to the executives, Samara subsidiary Witzig is yet to file its responses.
Executives told the financial daily that the latest norms may make it difficult for Amazon to increase its link between its India marketplace and the supermarket chain.
Currently, the government allows 51% FDI in multi-brand retail and 100% FDI in the marketplace concept of online retailing.
It was reported in September 2018 that a consortium of Amazon and Samara Capital were set to purchase supermarket chain More from ABRL.
Two executives familiar with the matter were then cited by The Economic Times as saying that the investment bank Goldman Sachs opted out of the consortium.
One executive told the publication then: “There was no space for Goldman in the deal since Amazon wants 49%, which is little short of the permitted 51% in multi-brand retail FDI.”
With an enterprise value ranging between $576.94m and $591.03m, the More sale is expected to assist ABRL in clearing its entire debt.