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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.

AUTHOR

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.

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