The Ambani ambush: Reliance in talks to acquire a clutch of online firms

(Image credit: Reliance Industries)

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), owned by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, was originally slated to take over Kishore Biyani's Future Retail to consolidate its online grocery business that it had launched through JioMart. Now, in a bid to further expand and strengthen its presence in the e-commerce niche, RIL is said to be in talks to acquire a clutch of well-performing online retail companies --- Urban Ladder, NetMeds, Milkbasket and Zivame.

Urban Ladder is a popular online furniture seller. Milkbasket, as the name clearly suggests, is an established player in dairy delivery, vegetables, fruits and cooking related platform. NetMeds is a Chennai-based online pharma delivery company. Zivame is a popular online lingerie seller    

According to a report in Times of India, Reliance's talks with Urban Ladder are said to be be at an advanced stage. The amount that is being bandied about for the deal is $30 million. If the deal crystallizes, RIL will make its presence felt in the online furniture space, which like most e-commerce niches, is seeing good demand in the lockdown period.  

Though the deal with Milkbasket has no clear details about the money involved, sources say that the talks in this too are in the final lap. An announcement can be expected at the earliest.

Incidentally, Milkbasket was also reportedly in talks with Amazon and BigBasket. At the time of reporting this, Reliance seems to be the driver's seat. Milkbasket operates in Gurugram, Noida, Dwarka, Ghaziabad, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, and is said to service around 1.30 lakh households. It deals with over 9,000 products across different categories, including fruits, vegetables and dairy. In the pandemic-hit times, when there is more demand for online shopping, Milkbasket's daily average orders increased by about 2.5 times and the company is adding up to 1,00 sign-ups every day.

Reliance is expanding its base

The e-pharma industry is also one area where India will see a lot of action. Just a few days back, Amazon launched its online pharma delivery company. It was widely seen as a move to preempt Reliance's move which is said to take over the Chennai-based NetMeds.

Aside from this, Reliance is also likely acquire lingerie platform Zivame.

Amidst all these developments, there are stray rumours the under-fire TikTok is also in early-stage talks with Reliance Industries to financially back its India business. The app was banned in India on June 29 over national security and data privacy concerns.

In the last few years, Reliance has made strategic investments in multiple companies including in ed-tech startup Embibe, music streaming application Saavn, O2O commerce platform Fynd, logistics player Grab, AI-based chatbot major Haptik, local language services provider Reverie and small business platform NowFloats.

Balakumar K
Senior Editor

Over three decades as a journalist covering current affairs, politics, sports and now technology. Former Editor of News Today, writer of humour columns across publications and a hardcore cricket and cinema enthusiast. He writes about technology trends and suggest movies and shows to watch on OTT platforms.