Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has held talks with a number of start-ups before its India foray. However, its main partner is likely to be its biggest investment in India, Paytm.
According to people in the know, Alibaba has discussed alliances with several online marketplaces, including Snapdeal and Shopclues. It has also held talks with business-to-business (B2B) players, logistics companies, and technology start-ups.
"We had initial talks with Alibaba but these are at a nascent stage. When Alibaba does come to India, it will need local players for rapid expansion," said an executive with a company Alibaba had held talks with.
Another Chinese Internet major Baidu also has held talks with a number of players, including Zomato and Shopclues, but nothing significant has emerged.
India is a focus market for Alibaba and it plans to take on Amazon when it enters. During a recent earnings call, Alibaba provided an indication of its India plans, mentioning its investments in Paytm.
"The other emerging market is India, where we have decided to play some very strategically located assets in that market. We invested jointly with Ant Financial into a company called Paytm, the largest mobile wallet company in India. We think mobiles and payment are going to be important strategic assets for us in that market," Joseph C Tsai, executive vice-chairman, Alibaba, said.
Alibaba Group is the largest shareholder of One97 Communications, which owns and operates Paytm, with an investment of $680 million.
FAST FACTS ABOUT ALIBABA
* Alibaba.com, the B2B business of the Jack Ma-led company, has one million suppliers in China and 250,000 overseas suppliers globally
* Has 110 mn buyers all over the world, 4.5 mn registered users in India as of December 2015
* Apart from India, it operates through resellers in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey and other markets
* India's B2B segment of e-commerce is currently valued at $300 bn
* By 2020, it is set to be valued at around $700 billion against $6.7 trillion globally
* Alibaba Group and subsidiary Ant Financial are the largest shareholders of One97 Communications, which runs Paytm
* Total investment pegged at $680 million; Alibaba and Ant Financial hold around 20% each in One97