They say silence is golden. It’s also often revealing. Despite media reports media reports Bloomberg Amazon, Walmart's Flipkart in Talks to Buy Stake in $1.1 Billion Diagnostics Chain Read more  and whispers swirling around, leading diagnostics major Metropolis Healthcare has been maintaining a studied silence about its ongoing hunt for potential buyers for a stake in the company.  On the list are marquee names—online retail giants Flipkart and Amazon, global funds KKR, TPG, Barings, and Blackstone, as well as healthcare major Apollo Hospitals. 

At least three independent sources confirmed to The Ken that Flipkart is the front-runner in the race. The Walmart-controlled firm is gunning for a minority stake in Metropolis, they confirmed. Another source at one of the global funds named above also confirmed to The Ken that talks are underway. 

“Metropolis has been considering a stake sale since the early part of this year. It appointed investment bank Barclays as an adviser in early May,” said the source from the global fund. Interestingly, the Metropolis stock hit its all-time high on 31 December 2021. The talks, however, are still in the early stages, say the sources. The deal’s contours are still taking shape, and it may take four to six months for it to come through. 

Earlier in 2015, private equity major Warburg Pincus had sold sold ET Warburg Pincus exit from Metropolis Read more all of its 27% stake in Metropolis Healthcare to the promoter family for $90 million.

The deal makes sense for Flipkart—diagnostics would fill a key piece of the healthcare jigsaw puzzle that the e-commerce major is actively working on. 

It’s also advantageous for Metropolis. One, Flipkart is unlikely to rock the boat by asking for a majority stake right off the bat. That may not be the case with private equity players (PE) who are unlikely to settle for less, people close to the discussion told The Ken.  

And two, Flipkart could provide the chops for Metropolis to up its online and tech game. The e-pharma space is now a crowded, competitive lion’s den with well-funded startups such as Tata 1mg and PharmEasy offering deep discounts. Meanwhile, biggies such as Reliance Industries Reliance Industries The Ken The many pieces of Reliance’s integrated healthcare jigsaw Read more , the Adani Group the Adani Group The Ken Read more , and Lupin Pharma are making a ploy for the space, and smaller players such as Redcliffe and Orange Health are getting funded funded ET Orange Health raises $25 million Read more  even in the current iffy market conditions.