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Big Tech wants a bigger pie in India, but it just can’t seem to bypass Mukesh Ambani

Big Tech is clamoring for a bigger piece of India’s booming internet space, but that increasingly seems to mean going through the country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani.

Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. is said to be offering to sell a stake of about $20 billion in its retail business to Amazon.com Inc., Bloomberg News reported this week. If Ambani succeeds in pulling off such a deal, it would mark another victory for the billionaire, who in recent months has secured $20 billion of investment in his digital unit from marquee names including Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

The mere possibility of an Amazon investment reveals not only Ambani’s market clout, but also how India’s business climate is changing as Prime Minister Narendra Modi cranks up nationalist rhetoric while the nation hurtles toward the first annual economic contraction in 40 years. Having seen multiple regulatory roadblocks thrown in their way, a tie-up with a powerful Indian ally has never looked more crucial for the world’s biggest internet companies. And no business person carries more heft in India — known for its complicated bureaucracy and red tape — than Ambani. Bloomberg

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