India In-Focus – Antitrust Raids on Amazon Sellers Cloudtail, Appario; The heat wave disrupts industrial activity
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s antitrust body on Thursday launched raids on two of online retail giant Amazon.com Inc’s top domestic sellers accused of breaching competition laws, Reuters said. Reuters two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Indian retailers have long argued that Amazon’s platform largely benefits a few big sellers, with the company indulging in predatory pricing that hurts their business.
The exact nature of the alleged violations behind Thursday’s raids was not immediately clear. The two vendors were Cloudtail and Appario, the sources said on condition of anonymity as details were not public.
Amazon, which has an indirect stake in both, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cloudtail, Appario and the regulator, the Competition Commission of India, also did not immediately respond to email inquiries.
A source said the raids, carried out in the capital New Delhi and the technology hub of southern Bengaluru, were linked to the CCI investigation ordered in January 2020.
In this case, Amazon and Walmart competitor Flipkart face charges of anti-competitive practices, such as promoting favorite sellers on websites and prioritizing certain sellers’ ads.
The companies deny the charges and the antitrust investigation continues.
Amazon has previously said it “does not give preferential treatment to any seller in its marketplace” and “treats all sellers fairly, transparently, and non-discriminatoryly.”
The heat wave disrupts industrial activity
India’s northwestern state of Rajasthan has scheduled four hours of power cuts for factories, making it at least the third state to disrupt industrial activity to handle growing demand for electricity. electricity in the midst of an intense heat wave.
Extreme heat continued to scorch large swaths of South Asia this week, offering no respite from India’s hottest March on record and prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments about India becoming too hot too soon.
India’s West Gujarat state and Andhra Pradesh curtailed industrial activity this month as demand for air conditioning peaked and economic activity picked up after coronavirus restrictions ended.
The desert state of Rajasthan has also imposed four-hour power cuts in rural areas, exposing thousands of families in the desert state to extreme temperatures, with peak summer heat still to come before the arrival of the refreshing monsoon rains in June.
India’s peak power demand hit a record high on Tuesday and is expected to rise by a tenth next month. The Indian Meteorological Service has warned of worsening heatwave conditions in the coming days.
The unprecedented heat is putting millions of blue-collar workers, including construction and agricultural workers and those working in factory shops, at great risk. Sunburn has claimed the lives of thousands of Indians in the past.
Industrial disruptions and widespread power cuts are also bad news for Indian businesses, as economic activity has just started to pick up after months of stagnation amid coronavirus lockdowns.
Reliance and Apollo Global plan joint bid on Boots pharmacy chain
Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. and US takeover firm Apollo Global Management are planning a joint bid for UK pharmacy chain Boots, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The joint bid for Walgreens Boots Alliance’s UK business, if successful, would see Boots expand its presence in India, South East Asia and the Middle East, according to the report.
(With contributions from Reuters)