The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on Friday approved the acquisition of India's fourth largest supermarket chain -- Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL), which runs More supermarkets -- by Witzig Advisory Services Private Ltd (WASPL) and also the acquisition of 49 per cent of its stake by an Amazon subsidiary.
"CCI approves acquisition of 99.99 per cent of the equity share capital of Aditya Birla Retail Limited (ABRL) by Witzig Advisory Services Private Limited," the CCI tweeted.
The fair trade regulator also gave approval to Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of US online retail giant Amazon, for acquiring 49 per cent stake in Witzig Advisory Services, a joint venture controlled by private equity firm Samara Capital.
"CCI approves acquisition of 49 per cent equity share capital of Witzig Advisory Services Private Limited by Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC," it said in another tweet.
The twin approvals by the country's anti-monopoly watchdog comes within a month of Centre tightening the norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in e-commerce.
Amazon and Samara Capital announced around September 2018 that they would acquire the supermarket chain ‘More’ owned by Aditya Birla Group for a rough value of Rs 4,200 crore.
ABRL is the retail arm of $44-billion Aditya Birla Group. The company is into food and grocery retail sectors under the brand 'More' with two formats - Supermarket and Hypermarkets, as per its website.
Currently, it has 532 supermarkets and 20 hypermarkets across India.
However, this comes at a time when the government, on December 26, 2018, revised the rules banning the sale of goods produced by an entity in which an e-commerce venture has a stake on its online platform. It also barred e-commerce venture from controlling inventory on its platform.
There were reports following this that this move may come as a blow to Amazon’s plans to invest nearly $500 million in India’s food retail market. In order to comply with the new norms, which will come into effect starting February 1, 2019, Amazon Retail India, which sells food products in Amazon.in will have to stop selling food items.