Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is in talks to buy a stake in radio cab service Meru, the Business Standard reported.
The report said Alibaba executives have held discussions with Meru. Jack Ma might make his third trip to India in six months if this deal goes through. Meru is reportedly seeking a an investment of $100 million.
India Value Fund, which holds a 80 percent stake in Meru, will sell part of that to enable Alibaba's entry the report says.
Mumbai-based Meru operates radio cabs and is also a cab aggregator with tie-ups with drivers. It was among the first to enter the cab business when the sector was largely unorganized. But in the last two years competition has intensified as Ola Cabs — backed by Softbank's $210 million investment — overtook Meru to become India's largest operator.
San Francisco-based Uber, valued at $40 billion, also entered the Indian market which quickly became its second-largest outside the United States, before it ran into legal problems after one of its drivers allegedly raped a woman passenger. It has recently reduced fares by half in select cities to grow its passenger base.
Calls to a Meru spokesperson went unanswered. Alibaba is familiar with cab aggregators. It was an investor in Kuaidi Dache, a major aggregator which has now merged with China's biggest cab app operator Didi Dache.