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Asia's richest man outlines plan to take on Amazon in India

Bangalore

RELIANCE Industries will roll out its online shopping platform to 1.2 million retailers and store owners in western India, sketching out an ambitious plan to take on Amazon.com and Walmart's Flipkart on its home turf.

Mukesh Ambani, Asia's richest man, intends to take on the world's largest retailers by combining his Jio telecom service, mobile devices and a vast physical retail network. The energy-to-consumer conglomerate joins Ama-zon and Flipkart in expanding aggressively across the world's fastest-growing major e-commerce market, where organised retail is still a rarity.

"Jio and Reliance Retail will launch a unique new commerce platform to empower and enrich our 12 lakh small retailers and shopkeepers in Gujarat," the Reliance chairman said at an event in the state on Friday. Twelve lakh is equivalent to 1.2 million.

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Fast-growing Jio currently has 280 million subscribers, while Mr Ambani's retail arm operates nearly 10,000 outlets across more than 6,500 Indian cities and towns. They will team up to bring merchants aboard through Jio's apps and devices, V Subrama-niam, a top executive at Reliance Retail, said on Thursday.

Last month, India tightened rules that will disallow foreign-owned online retailers from selling products via companies in which they own equity, and forbid them from pushing merchants to sell exclusively through their platforms. The rules are expected to affect the operations of both Amazon and Walmart, while benefiting local enterprises such as Reliance. BLOOMBERG