Update: Catamaran Amazon JV to Train SMBs on Online Tools & Selling

Catamaran Ventures, the family office of billionaire N R Narayana Murthy, is planning a joint venture with Amazon to enter e-commerce in India.
N R Narayana Murthy (Image: Wikipedia)
N R Narayana Murthy (Image: Wikipedia)

Catamaran Ventures, the family office of billionaire N R Narayana Murthy, is planning a joint venture with Amazon to enter e-commerce in India, said a report.

The Infosys co-founders family office will run the venture in India, as the e-commerce company looks for ways to skirt the ban on Foreign Direct Investment in e-commerce in India.

Arjun Ramegowda Narayanswamy of Catamaran said

Catamaran is partnering with Amazon Asia to offer services that help offline sellers and SMBs in India to get online and to take advantage of the fast-growing online customer base in the country. (Source)

Update: Most people we spoke to were tight lipped. So this is all we got for you now: the partnership with Amazon was formalized in May. Catamaran is the majority shareholder in the entity (that could be over 51%). The new entity is called Taurus Business And Trade Services Pvt Ltd.

The entity is already operational across major cities and towns in India to train SMB sellers in online tools and help them gain larger customer audience, a company spokesperson told me. Updates to follow.

When IT Czars go Retail Shopping

We don’t want to second guess the outcome already. But here’s a look at what has worked & what hasn’t when ‘IT Czars’ go retail shopping.

Wipro Chairman Azim Premji’s previous bet on Subhiksha, a super market chain in South India didn’t end well. Premji’s investment arm bought into Subhiksha in 2008 from ICICI Venture for Rs 230 cr. Subhiksha, which was a 1600 store chain, had to wind up most of them. A legal battle between Subhiksha Promoter & Azim Premji is still on.

American retailer Walmart had a similar Joint Venture in India with Bharti Enterprises. The didn’t work and Walmart bought out Bharti’s stake in the JV for $100 mn in October 2013. Walmart incurred a loss of $234 mn from the deal.

What worked for Premji Investments is its bet on fashion retailer Myntra which was bought over by Flipkart for $330 mn. Murthy’s Catamaran has previously funded Yebhi, another online retailer battling for survival.

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