One is a 153-year-old steel-to-software conglomerate with a middling supermarket chain. The other is a nine-year-old unicorn that has been instrumental in convincing Indians to buy fruit, vegetables, and staples online. One puts profitability first, and the other is in a business where increasing market share takes precedence over being in the black. And yet, the Tata Group wants the BigBasket cake.

The Tata Group’s impending purchase purchase The Economic Times Tata closes in on BigBasket, 1mg to power super app plan Read more of a majority stake in the online grocer has not been announced yet; a senior executive with BigBasket says the acquisition will be made public once the Tata Group gets the go-ahead from the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The investment will be made by the group’s holding company, Tata Sons, according to a senior executive with Tata Sons.

The acquisition is an opportunistic move for both companies. Because, despite the obvious differences on the surface, the two have more in common under the hood.

“For BigBasket, it’s not ‘move fast and break things’,” says the co-founder of an agritech startup that works with the e-grocer. The same applies to the Tata Group, unlike, say, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. “Tata and BigBasket are both very ethical but not ambitious,” says the senior executive with BigBasket. The agritech co-founder and BigBasket and Tata Group executives quoted in the story requested anonymity as they didn’t want to be seen publicly commenting on the deal.

BigBasket has little to gain from the Tata Group’s struggling Star Star The Ken Tata-Tesco’s retail identity crisis is now an existential one Read more supermarket chain. After all, one of the biggest factors in BigBasket’s rise has been its unwavering focus on its own warehouses for fulfilment and not on operational grocery stores like some of its peers.

However, the deal is its chance to find a replacement for its largest investor, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Not only are ties between India and China strained, Alibaba itself is under regulatory scrutiny scrutiny The Wall Street Journal Alibaba, Amid Antitrust Pressure, Is Conducting Internal Review Read more at home. According to an executive in the tech division of BigBasket, the company’s co-founder and CEO Hari Menon alluded to India’s restrictions restrictions Hindustan Times Chinese funding in Indian firms hit by new FDI norms Read more on Chinese funding on a Zoom call in late January where he confirmed the Tata investment.


Seetharaman G

Starting out as a business journalist in 2008, Seetharaman has written about energy, climate change, retail, banking, and technology. He has worked with Business Today, a fortnightly, and the Sunday edition of The Economic Times.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at detailing the error or queries.