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Grapevine: Amazon likely to buy into Future Retail; WestBridge may invest in Rapido

In a move to boost its bricks-and-mortar footprint in India, Amazon.com, Inc. is in advanced discussions to buy up to 10% stake in the country’s number two retailer by revenue, Future Retail, people in the know told The Economic Times. 

Future wants Amazon to shell out $281 million for the stake, said the people, asking not to be named, adding that the e-commerce firm could buy more stake from Kishore Biyani, Future Retail’s founder and chairman. Mumbai-based Future Retail operates over 2,000 stores across 400 Indian cities, including the flagship Big Bazaar stores. Future Retail’s parent firm Future Group and Amazon in India told The Economic Times that they don’t comment on market speculation. 

Over the past few years, Amazon has been acquiring tiny stakes in other Indian bricks-and-mortar chains such as Shoppers Stop Ltd and a grocery chain of the Aditya Birla Group. 

Separately, two-wheeler taxi startup Rapido is in talks to raise $50 million (about Rs 355.5 crore at current exchange rate) in a round led by private equity firm WestBridge Capital Partners and China’s Shunwei Capital at a valuation of $200 million, two people aware of the matter told Mint.

Existing investor and homegrown venture capital firm Nexus Venture Partners will also participate in the round, the people said, asking not to be named.

Early this year, Rapido raised $10 million in its Series A round led by Nexus and Integrated Capital.

Founded by Rishikesh SR Pavan Guntupalli and Aravind Sanka in 2015, Rapido operates across 13 cities, primarily in south India.

“Rapido (owned by Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd) is also planning to go deeper into the northern markets and in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, where there is significant scope for growth and no regulatory issues,” said a third person aware of the company’s plans.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based Fireside Ventures, an early-stage venture investor focused on consumer brands, is in the process of raising a $100 million (about Rs 711 crore at current exchange rate) second fund, two people aware of the development told Mint.

In March 2018, the company announced the final close of its debut fund at $52 million.

Fireside Ventures was founded in 2017 and has invested across segments including personal care, processed foods, lifestyle and home products. Its portfolio includes Yoga Bar, Samosa Singh, Bombay Shaving Co., Mamaearth and Vahdam Teas.

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