India's Reliance seen emerging as bigger threat for U.S. firms like Amazon, Walmart


2020/07/16 16:37  路透社
* Reliance unit backed by Google and Facebook has big India plans
   * Billionaire Ambani has announced e-commerce expansion Wednesday
   * Reliance could threaten foreign firms like Amazon, Walmart
   * Zoom faces competition from Reliance's video conferencing tool 
   By Aditya Kalra and Nivedita Bhattacharjee
   NEW DELHI/BENGALURU , July 16 (Reuters) - A $20 billion fund raising spree may take India's Reliance closer to its dream of becoming a digital giant, further threatening the ambitious plans U.S. companies like Amazon , Walmart  and Zoom have for India.
   Stake sales in Reliance's digital unit Jio Platforms attracted not just private equity and sovereign wealth funds but also Google and Facebook , a strong endorsement for an enterprise that until a few years ago focussed largely on oil refining.
   Some industry watchers equate Reliance's digital plans - which extend from online shopping and cloud computing to telecom and digital payments - to China's Alibaba and Tencent  , companies Reliance itself calls "global peers".
   Reliance has a track record of disrupting rival businesses. With cheap smartphones and data plans, its telecom venture Jio has in four years dethroned market leaders Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to become the largest telecom operator in India.
   On Wednesday, billionaire chairman Mukesh Ambani said Reliance will expand e-commerce platform JioMart - which connects small retailers with consumers - to offer not just groceries but also electronics and fashion goods.
   "Jio Platforms not only has the backend infrastructure and development capabilities but also an ever expanding captive consumer base," said Mayank Vishnoi of Singapore-based financial advisory firm Resfeber International.
   "The addition of new digital products targeting various sectors will pose threats to many large dominant players. Having strategic partners like Facebook and Google validates that Reliance gameplan is real."
   The recent stake sales gave Reliance a foreign partner for JioMart, which was launched this year. Facebook's WhatsApp, which counts India as its top market with 400 million plus users, will work closely in connecting small retailers to JioMart.
   "We will cover many more cities, serve many more customers across India, and expand to many more categories," said Ambani.
   Asked about the potential impact on foreign businesses eyeing India, one local industry executive who advises U.S. multinationals said: "Amazon and Walmart should be scared."
   To be sure, Reliance will face stiff competition from Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart, as both companies have deep pockets and an already well-established warehousing and logistics supply chain in the country.
   JioMart currently delivers groceries in only 200 cities, while Amazon and Flipkart deliver a wide range of goods across the country.
   Walmart, Flipkart and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
   Reliance also has a retail footprint of around 11,000 stores across 6,700 cities that offer a wide array of products. It has also partnered with over 45 top international brands including Tiffany & Co , Burberry and Jimmy Choo.
   Senior leadership at Flipkart has started keeping close tabs on Reliance, and there is a fear the Indian company will have an added advantage from the regulatory perspective, two sources close to the company told Reuters.
   The Ambani family is viewed as being well-connected politically. Amazon and Walmart have had regulatory troubles and face far tighter government oversight in India, where the prime minister has been promoting self reliance.
   Reliance's digital plans extend beyond e-commerce.
   On Wednesday, the company said it will develop education and healthcare solutions via its JioMeet video conferencing tool that saw 5 million users within days of its launch this month. JioMeet has a starkly similar design to its rival, U.S. based Zoom Video Communications .
   Zoom said this month it had plans for a significant investment in India. Asked about Reliance, Zoom said it had experienced intense competition in the past but we "know what it takes" to become a platform of choice.
   "This threat is real," one U.S. tech executive in India said about Reliance. "As of now, it's not changing the game, but that view can change in a year from now."

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Nivedita Bhattacharjee;
Additional reporting by Sankalp Pharityal; Editing by Kim
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作者:Aditya Kalra和Nivedita Bhattacharjee
Reliance数字部门Jio Platforms的股权出售不仅吸引了私人股本和主权财富基金,还吸引了谷歌(Google)和Facebook,这对这家直到几年前还主要专注于炼油的企业来说,是一个强有力的认可。
信实有颠覆竞争对手业务的记录。凭借廉价的智能手机和数据计划,其电信企业Jio在四年内取代了市场领军企业沃达丰Idea和巴蒂电信(Bharti Airtel),成为印度最大的电信运营商。
周三,亿万富翁董事长穆凯什·安巴尼(Mukesh Ambani)表示,信实将扩大电子商务平台JioMart-将小型零售商与消费者联系起来-不仅提供食品杂货,还提供电子和时尚商品。
新加坡金融咨询公司Resfeber International的Mayank Vishnoi表示:“Jio平台不仅拥有后端基础设施和开发能力,还拥有不断扩大的专属消费者基础。”

信实还在6700个城市拥有约11,000家门店,提供广泛的产品。它还与蒂芙尼(Tiffany&Co)、巴宝莉(Burberry)和周(Jimmy Choo)等45多个顶级国际品牌建立了合作伙伴关系。
周三,该公司表示,将通过其JioMeet视频会议工具开发教育和医疗解决方案,该工具本月发布后几天内就有500万用户。JioMeet的设计与其竞争对手、总部位于美国的Zoom Video Communications截然不同。

(Aditya Kalra和Nivedita Bhattacharjee报道;
Sankalp Pharitya补充报道;Kim编辑


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