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Capital Calls

31 May 2021 By Breakingviews columnists

Concise insights on global finance.



In the bag. Ambitious digital start-ups typically burn oodles of cash trying to win consumers. India’s storied Tata conglomerate has a different problem. It has been looking to stitch together its customer-facing offerings spanning tea and salt at Tata Consumer Products, luxurious Taj resorts at Indian Hotels, electric vehicles at Tata Motors and gold, watches and spectacles at Titan. The group’s purchase of one of the country’s biggest online grocers suggests how it plans to link everything into a super-app.

Tata might have spent about $1 billion on BigBasket, according to Indian media. The Alibaba-backed startup is potentially the most important feature in the group’s yet-to-be-launched all-in-one app that aims to replicate the reach of Asian giants like Tencent-owned WeChat or Singapore’s Grab. Groceries remain the holy grail of many e-commerce outfits because consumers purchase such items the most frequently. Tata’s app will be further anchored by other recent acquisitions including e-pharmacy 1MG. For now, the Indian group has bagged a top item. (by Una Galani)


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