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Opinion
Andy Mukherjee

Ambani Versus Bezos: A Fight or a Waiting Game?

Feud over an acquisition points to a high-stakes strategy in India’s gigantic retailing market.

Jeff Bezos can afford to take his time for the right deal.

Jeff Bezos can afford to take his time for the right deal.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A vanilla commercial dispute is setting the stage for a clash between the world’s No. 1 and No. 6 richest men. But the legal wrangling is a sideshow. What Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani are really fighting over is pole position in the only billion-plus-people consumer market available to both of them: India.

The ostensible battleground is a $3.4 billion deal Indian tycoon Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. stitched up in August to acquire assets of debt-laden local retailer Future Group. Bezos’s Amazon.com Inc. is trying to block the transaction.