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Report: Amazon, Samara Capital to buy India's More supermarkets

As expected, Amazon.com Inc. and private equity firm Samara Capital Management Ltd. will acquire Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd.'s More supermarket chain for 41 billion to 42 billion Indian rupees, The Economic Times (India) reported Sept. 3, citing two executives.

The executives reportedly said the acquisition will close within the next 10 days, possibly as early as this week, with the U.S. giant holding 49% of More and Samara Capital owning 51%.

Amazon and Samara will invest in More through an existing facility management back-end company, the report said. According to one of the executives, the back-end company "has no restriction" on foreign direct investment in India, and so the supermarket chain will not need to ask for approvals from individual state governments to operate stores once the acquisition is completed.

Samara Capital's investment in the back-end firm will be made via an alternative investment fund, or AIF, that is sponsored and managed by Indians, the report said, citing a person familiar with the deal. As a result, the AIF will be considered a domestic vehicle as per Indian law, even though some American family offices have invested in the fund.

Amazon and Samara plan to "set up 100 to 150 stores every year" after the deal is closed, the executives reportedly added. The transaction will effectively clear Aditya Birla's debt, which stood at 40 billion rupees as of March 2018.

Amazon is also in early discussions to buy a minority stake in food retailer Spencer's Retail Ltd., according to an Aug. 30 report by The Economic Times (India). The newspaper said the deals will enable Amazon to compete with Reliance Industries Ltd.'s Reliance Retail Ltd. and Walmart Inc.'s Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. in the country.

As of Aug. 31, US$1 was equivalent to 70.88 Indian rupees.