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Alibaba Cools on Idea of Investing in India's Snapdeal

The companies have held discussions, but the talks did not involve a deal anywhere close in size to the $1 billion number reported elsewhere.

Asa Mathat
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

India is one of the hottest e-commerce markets on the planet, but Chinese giant Alibaba has for now scrapped plans to invest in one of the two big online shopping startups in that country, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.

Alibaba has held discussions with the company, Snapdeal, about a possible investment, this person said. But the talks did not involve a deal anywhere close in size to the $1 billion number reported by India’s Economic Times, and Alibaba is leaning away from making any investment whatsoever in Snapdeal right now, according to the source.

Representatives for both companies declined to comment.

The talks come at a time in which the rise of smartphone adoption in India, the world’s second most-populous nation after China, has led to a burst of online commerce in the country. Snapdeal and fellow Indian shopping startup Flipkart have each raised more than $1 billion for their online marketplaces as they look to fend off Amazon, which launched its own online store there in 2013. Amazon has said it plans to invest $2 billion into the business.

Snapdeal, led by CEO Kunal Bahl, received a large investment from eBay one year ago, and later raised an investment of more than $600 million from Japanese giant SoftBank, which happens to be Alibaba’s largest shareholder. While eBay and Amazon are both placing big bets on India, the e-commerce industry there is still six to seven years behind China, Bahl said previously, giving Alibaba some time to consider alternate ways to enter the market other than a Snapdeal investment.

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