SINGAPORE — India is a small contributor to Amazon’s total sales right now, but the country may become an important growth driver for the U.S. e-commerce giant, according to tech investor Gene Munster.
Amazon scored a victory on Sunday when the company won an injunction from an arbitrator in Singapore to temporarily halt a significant deal between two major Indian retailers: Future Retail and Reliance Industries.
Future Retail, a subsidiary of Future Group, announced in August that it will be selling its businesses in retail, wholesale, and logistics to Reliance for $3.38 billion, including debt, Reuters reported. Amazon filed a legal suit against Future Retail, alleging that the Indian retailer breached contractual provisions it agreed to in a separate deal with the U.S. tech giant, according to the news agency.
Reliance — owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani — has been making headway into India’s vast e-commerce sector which is currently dominated by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.
Amazon has a growing presence in India. The e-commerce giant has invested billions into the South Asian nation.
“When you think about Amazon and their growth profile, (they) just had wicked growth in the last six months,” Munster, who is founder and managing partner at Loup Ventures, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.
“But you think about a normalized growth profile, you think about the impact of India, this could be 15% to 20% of its growth over the next five years — India could be,” he said.
Amazon saw “a part of their opportunity – a really important growth driver – some of that window starting to close” as a result of the Reliance-Future deal, the investor said.
Amazon has announced investments of at least $6 billion in India, including a $1 billion pledge in January to help small businesses in the country. The tech giant hopes to export $10 billion worth of India-made goods around the world by 2025.
But the company also faces regulatory hurdles in India, including antitrust probes.
Still, the injunction from the Singapore arbitrator was not automatically enforceable in India and the order would have to be ratified by an Indian court, Reuters reported.
For its part, Reliance in a statement said it “intends to enforce its rights and complete the transaction in terms of the scheme and agreement with Future (Group) without any delay.”
Reliance may potentially win the dispute over Amazon because it has more political strength in India, according to Munster. He explained that the final outcome is unlikely to have any impact on Amazon’s share price as investors do not give sufficient credit to the opportunity in India as the market contributes very little to overall sales for the e-commerce company at the moment.
“So, I think the convenient response from investors will be ‘disappointment, but it’s only 3% of revenue.’ But I think it really misses the bigger point, which is to be successful in e-commerce in India, for a U.S. company to be successful, they must partner, especially given some of the local laws,” Munster said.
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