Indian conglomerates are in a race to acquire assets for building comprehensive business ecosystem around each business that they are in. Tata Group, Reliance Industries (RIL), Aditya Birla, Adani, JSW and Vedanta are among those acquiring smaller companies, including start-ups, to fill gaps in their portfolios.
Tata Sons has agreed to acquire control of India's largest online grocer BigBasket, in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Tata Digital, the newly floated subsidiary which is building Super App, looks to strengthen its e-tail portfolio through the acquisition. The salt-to-aviation conglomerate is also in talks with Just Dial, the 24-year old local discovery platform, as a part of its digital push. Just Dial recently launched B2B portal JD Mart.
Tata Group is also in the race for acquiring national carrier Air India. SpiceJet promoter Ajay Singh has also shown an interest in acquiring Air India. The group is also in talks to acquire e-pharmacy firm 1mg for $100 million.
Reliance Strategic Business Ventures Limited (RSBVL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL), recently acquired additional equity stake in the US-based technology company skyTran Inc for $26.76 million. Mukesh Ambani-led company increased its shareholding to 54.46 per cent from 26.3 per cent in the firm. RIL plans to develop pod taxi prototype in India, a next-generation transportation system.
Jio Platform plans to invest $200 million in the homegrown venture capital firm Kalaari Capital. The deal is expected to give Reliance visibility in startup ecosystems in emerging sectors. RIL acquired four of Kalaari's portfolio companies in the past--- edtech startup Embibe, online lingerie retailer Zivame, AI-powered chatbot Haptik and online furniture startup Urban Ladder.
Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) acquired 96 per cent stake in Urban Ladder for Rs 182 crore. Before this, RIL brought majority stake in digital pharmacy start-up Netmeds. RRVL also announced acquisition of the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses of Future Group for Rs 24,713 crore.
Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL) has bought significant stakes in luxury couture businesses of fashion designers Sabyasachi and Tarun Tahiliani. ABFRL bought a 51 percent stake in Sabyasachi for Rs 398 crore last year. In 2019, it struck a partnership with designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil.
Adani group has been a bit aggressive in acquisitions in the infrastructure and public utility space. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), India's largest private port operator, has completed the acquisition of Krishnapatnam Port Co Ltd (KPCL) for an enterprise value of Rs 12,000 crore in October. Adani Transmission (ATL) has recently acquired Alipurduar Transmission Limited from Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd (KPTL) for an enterprise value of Rs 1,300 crore. In August, Adani group announced the acquisition of GVK Group's stake in Mumbai airport.
Anil Agarwal's Vedanta group has put in Expression of Interest (EoI) for acquiring the government stake in Bharat Petroleum Company Limited (BPCL). It will be the largest acquisition by the group, if it materialises. The group is already in the oil exploration and production industry through Cairn India. Sajjan Jindal's JSW Steel is on the way to acquire Bhushan Power and Steel for Rs 19,350 crore in bankruptcy proceedings. The company has already completed acquisitions of two bankrupt firms -- Monnet Ispat and Asian Colour Coated.