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As Jeff Bezos and Narayana Murthy end Cloudtail partnership amid CCI probe, here’s a timeline on one of Amazon’s largest sellers in India

Amazon said on August 9 that its partnership with NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran would not be renewed after May 19, 2022. Prione Business Services, the JV that owns Cloudtail India, was set up in 2014. Cloudtail India’s presence on Amazon has led to allegations of malpractices by smaller online sellers, leading to a Competition Commission of India (CCI) probe

August 10, 2021 / 01:00 PM IST
Cloudtail's end: Amazon said its 7-year long partnership with NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures will come to an end in May 2022.

Cloudtail's end: Amazon said its 7-year long partnership with NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures will come to an end in May 2022.

A few hours after the Supreme Court (SC) asked the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to continue its investigation into Amazon and Flipkart, e-commerce giant Amazon said that its seven-year-long partnership with NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures would come to an end in May 2022. The two companies jointly own Prione Business Services, whose wholly-owned subsidiary Cloudtail India has repeatedly come under the scanner for alleged violation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms.

Here is a look at how Cloudtail India’s presence on Amazon attracted widespread protests and allegations of malpractices from smaller online sellers, leading to the CCI probe.

June 2014: NR Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures forms a Joint Venture (JV) with Amazon, called Taurus Business and Trade Services. Amazon had sought a partnership with Catamaran as India’s e-commerce FDI norms do not allow foreign players to hold a majority stake. Catamaran Ventures holds 51 per cent and Amazon holds 49 per cent as FDI norms prohibit foreign firms from holding a majority stake in e-commerce companies. Taurus Business and Trade Services, which was later renamed Prione Business Services, helps offline sellers and Small & Medium Business (SMB) services expand their online customer base.

August 2014: Cloudtail India is set up as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Prione Business Services and launched as a seller on Amazon

March 2015: Cloudtail India registers Rs 1,145 crore revenue and a Rs 32 crore loss for FY15

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March 2016: Cloudtail India clocks Rs 4,591.2 crore in revenue and a net loss of Rs 30.25 crore in FY16

March 2017: Cloudtail India's revenue rises to Rs 5,706 crore with a profit of Rs 1.59 crore in FY17

March 2017: All India Online Vendors Association writes to competition regulator CCI alleging that Amazon’s Cloudtail India and Flipkart’s WS Retail are indulging in predatory pricing

March 2018: Cloudtail India continues to see growth in revenue at Rs 7,149 crore, but registers a loss of Rs 4.1 crore in FY18

February 2019: New FDI norms for e-commerce marketplaces come into effect. The norms dictate that e-commerce entities are not allowed to exercise ownership over inventory sold on the marketplace

February 2019: Amazon Asia reduces stake in Cloudtail India to 24 per cent from 49 per cent earlier to adhere to new FDI norms. Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures increases stake to 76 per cent from 51 per cent earlier

March 2019: Cloudtail India clocks Rs 8,945 crore revenue and a profit at Rs 29.4 crore in FY19

January 2020: CCI orders probe against Amazon and Flipkart on a complaint by the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh alleging anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing and preferential treatment of sellers

December 2020: Cloudtail India clocks revenue of Rs 11,413 crore in FY20. Profit stands at Rs 68 crore

February 2021: A report by news agency Reuters says that Amazon documents reveal that two sellers Amazon has investments in (Cloudtail India and Appario) accounted for 35 per cent of its sales in early 2019

June 2021: British newspaper The Guardian reports that Cloudtail India faces Rs 56 crore tax demand

July 2021: Karnataka High Court dismisses plea by Amazon and Flipkart to halt CCI investigation

July 2021: Trade association Indian Sellers Collective urges Murthy to end partnership with Amazon and Cloudtail India

August 9, 2021: Supreme Court allows CCI to continue investigation against Amazon and Flipkart

August 9, 2021: Amazon and Catamaran Ventures decide not to renew Prione Business Services JV after partnership ends on May 19, 2022
Priyanka Iyer
first published: Aug 10, 2021 01:00 pm
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