Hyderabad: Tata Group’s retail company Trent Ltd on Thursday said online retailer Amazon.com Inc. has bought 26% stake in its publishing unit Westland for about Rs.9.5 crore.
Amazon also has the option to acquire the remaining 74% stake later, Trent said in a stock market filing. The investment was made by Amazon.com NV Investment Holding LLC. Amazon will get right to name one member to the Westland board.
“The investor (Amazon) will be provided with minority protection rights with respect to key operational and non-operational matters at the Board and shareholder level in Westland Limited in line with arrangements of this nature, including in relation to changes in its capital structure,” Trent said.
Chennai-based Westland said the investment will enable it to expand its international reach and scale its physical and digital book business. The funding will also facilitate taking Indian authors to global readers.
Some of Westland’s best-selling authors include Devdutt Patnaik, Satyajit Das, Rujuta Diwekar, Rashmi Bansal, Amish, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Ashwin Sanghi, Preeti Shenoy, Anuja Chauhan, Kiran Doshi, Dheeraj Sinha and Ashok Banker.
“We are very excited about this investment from Amazon and what it means for Westland, our customers and authors,” Gautam Padmanabhan, chief executive officer of Westland said in the statement. “Amazon’s roots are in books and they remain a major part of their business – this investment from a company with such deep experience in books, global reach and exciting digital platforms will help us take our Indian authors and their works globally.”
Amazon, which is the largest Internet-based retailer in the US, started out as an online bookstore in 1994. From selling books by third-party publishers on its platform, Amazon has since started its own publishing unit, Amazon Publishing. Since its founding in 2009, Amazon Publishing has published in different genres from romance and thrillers to spirituality, comics, and science fiction.
“We are delighted that our investment in Westland will help their authors reach a broader audience worldwide,” Sarah Jane Gunter, director of Amazon Publishing said. “Our investment in Westland continues Amazon’s commitment to innovating and investing heavily on behalf of customers in India – it’s still very much Day One.”
Westland began as a book distributor but ventured into publishing since 2007. Today, it is one of the top five English language trade publisher in the country and its imprints include Tranquebar Press (for literary fiction and non-fiction), EastWest (focusing on South India heritage) and Westland (for trade books, both fiction and non-fiction).
The present company was formed from the merger of two companies, Westland Books Pvt. Ltd and EastWest Books (Madras) Pvt. Ltd in April 2008.