Walmart could help one of India's top e-commerce start-ups compete with Amazon

  • Walmart is in advanced talks to become the largest shareholder in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, according to multiple reports this week.
  • The U.S. retail giant could purchase around a 20 to 26 percent stake in the Indian firm and increase its shareholding to 51 percent in stages, India's Economic Times reported Wednesday.
  • Bloomberg separately reported that Walmart was in talks to spend about $7 billion to become Flipkart's largest shareholder.
  • The deal could help Walmart enter the Indian retail market and also bolster Flipkart's efforts to compete with Amazon.

Walmart is in advanced talks to become the largest shareholder in Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart, according to multiple reports this week, a move that might bolster the start-up's efforts to compete with Amazon.

The U.S. retail giant could purchase around a 20 to 26 percent stake in the Indian firm and increase its shareholding to 51 percent in stages, India's Economic Times reported Wednesday.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company could invest between $10 billion and $12 billion for the entire purchase, the report added, citing sources. But initially, the primary investment would be between $1 billion and $2 billion, according to the report.

Flipkart did not immediately return CNBC's request for comment. One of its investors SoftBank declined to comment. Walmart was also not immediately available for comment.

The move from Walmart could help Flipkart bolster its efforts to compete with Amazon, which has aggressively invested in the Indian market and made a lot of strides.

"In order to maintain the lead with Amazon, (Flipkart) need to expand into grocery and at the same time maintain the gap in fashion and other categories," Satish Meena, an analyst at research firm Forrester, told CNBC. Grocery was a difficult category to offer without an offline presence, he added.

"A deal with Walmart can give them leverage into offering grocery online through a combination of offline and online channels," he said.

For Walmart, Flipkart was the "best available option" to access India's growing retail market, according to Meena.

"After trying to enter the Indian retail market via (an) offline channel, (Walmart) might have realized the difficulties of running an offline retail model in India under the current regulations," he said.

On Friday, Bloomberg, citing sources, separately reported that Walmart was in discussions to spend about $7 billion to become the largest shareholder in Flipkart.

As part of the deal, both reports said that Walmart would buy shares from existing investors including Japan's SoftBank and Tiger Global Management.