Walmart Inc is in talks with Tata Group for an investment of up to $25 billion in the Indian conglomerate's planned "super app", the Mint newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The app, scheduled to be launched in India in December or January, will tie in all of Tata's consumer business, including healthcare, grocery, insurance, fashion and electronics, the report said.
Walmart has hired Goldman Sachs as the banker for the proposed deal that could be run as a joint venture managed by Tata and include offerings from Walmart's Flipkart, the paper said.
"Walmart is keen to get a strong brand backing its e-commerce business, while Tata group wants a global name and an established player in the online space... to be able to compete against Reliance Industries' Jio Platforms and Amazon," a source told Mint.
Separately, Bloomberg News reported that the Tata Group, whose listed companies have a combined market value of $160 billion, is in discussions with potential investors about stakes in its digital platform.
Walmart did not respond to a Reuters request for comment, while Tata and Goldman declined to comment.
Shares of Tata Group flagship Tata Consultancy Services climbed 2.6% on Tuesday, while Tata Steel gained nearly 1% in a flat overall market.
If the deal goes through, it could mark Walmart's biggest investment in the country, topping the $16 billion the U.S.-based retailer paid for a 66% stake in ecommerce company Flipkart.
Walmart, Amazon and Reliance Industries, controlled by Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani, have all made bold bets on India's booming e-commerce market, which Goldman Sachs has estimated to be worth $99 billion by 2024.
They have targeted a growing population of tech-savvy shoppers, luring them with discounts, free returns and easy exchanges.
"Tata already has a good reputation for its products and Walmart's advanced technology and experience in the space will help with better distribution," said Rajiv Frank, marketing and brand consultant at New Delhi-based Brandtrotter.
"There are still a lot of people in small-town India who don't fully trust Amazon. Tata's name will help (Walmart) with the trust factor."