Flipkart raises $3.6 billion from GIC, SoftBank, Walmart, others

Flipkart raises $3.6 billion from GIC, SoftBank, Walmart, others

Flipkart Group on Monday said it has raised $3.6 billion (about Rs 26,805.6 crore) in funding led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, CPP Investments, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Walmart, valuing the e-commerce giant at $37.6 billion.

The company, which competes with Amazon, Reliance Industries’ JioMart and others in the burgeoning Indian e-commerce market, said it will continue to make deeper investments across people, technology, supply chain and infrastructure to address the requirements of a rapidly growing consumer base in the country.

While details about the investment made by these entities individually were not disclosed, sources said Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) infused about $750-800 million, while SoftBank has pumped about $500 million.

The current funding round has also seen participation from sovereign funds DisruptAD, Qatar Investment Authority, Khazanah Nasional Berhad as well as marquee investors Tencent, Willoughby Capital, Antara Capital, Franklin Templeton and Tiger Global, Flipkart said in a statement.

The funding round values Flipkart Group at $37.6 billion (about Rs 2.79 lakh crore) post-money, it added.

With this deal, SoftBank is re-entering Flipkart’s cap table. SoftBank had sold its approximately 20 per cent share when Walmart bought a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for $16 billion in 2018.

In July last year, Flipkart had announced a $1.2 billion (about Rs 9,048 crore) fundraising led by its majority shareholder Walmart that had valued the Bengaluru-based company at $24.9 billion (about Rs 1.87 lakh crore).

This (latest) investment by leading global investors reflects the promise of digital commerce in India and their belief in Flipkart’s capabilities to maximise this potential for all stakeholders. As we serve our consumers, we will focus on accelerating growth for millions of small and medium Indian businesses, including kiranas,” Flipkart Group Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy said.

Flipkart will continue to invest in new categories and leverage made-in-India technology to transform consumer experiences and develop a world-class supply chain, he added.

Post this round, Flipkart now ranks among the top 10 global e-commerce companies in terms of market cap. This list includes names like Amazon, Alibaba and Shopify, among others.

Founded in 2007, the Flipkart Group includes Flipkart, fashion speciality site Myntra and Ekart (logistics and supply chain arm). The group is also a majority shareholder in the digital payments platform PhonePe.

E-commerce has witnessed massive growth in the country over the past few years. The pandemic has further bolstered growth as containment measures introduced millions to the convenience of online shopping while prompting seasoned online shoppers to buy more.

Social distancing compulsions, massive smartphone base and reliable broadband have galvanised e-commerce uptake beyond the metros, deep into smaller cities and towns. E-commerce platforms are ramping up capacities and hiring aggressively to cater to the growth in orders.

Flipkart is reportedly working towards an initial public offering (IPO), even though the company has not revealed a specific timeline for the same.

The development comes at a time when the government is proposing stricter guidelines for e-commerce players. Ban on fraudulent flash sales, mis-selling and appointment of chief compliance officer/grievance redressal officer are among key amendments proposed to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.

Flipkart, along with rival Amazon are also facing a probe by fair trade watchdog CCI that is looking into complaints alleging that these platforms promote select sellers on their marketplace platforms and that deep discounts have stifled competition.

Flipkart, in its statement on Monday, said it will continue to make deeper investments across people, technology, supply chain and infrastructure to address the requirements of a rapidly growing consumer base in India.

A key focus area of the group is to help informal commerce segments leverage the power of technology, it noted.

“As one of the leaders in the fashion segment, this means working with the fashion industry and helping small businesses explore untapped opportunities that technology presents. Through its expanding grocery and last-mile delivery programmes, the group will also work with kiranas to help them digitise and grow,” it added.

Agus Tandiono, Managing Director, Head of Fundamental Equities Asia at CPP Investments, said one of the key investment themes for CPP Investments has been Asia’s domestic consumption.

“We believe India will be a leading source of global growth in the decades ahead, supported by positive demographics, a growing middle class and deepening Internet penetration. This investment in Flipkart builds on our programme to provide long-term capital to industry leaders,” Tandiono added.

SoftBank Investment Advisers Partner Lydia Jett said its re-investment in Flipkart is driven by its experience with and conviction in the company’s management team to continue addressing the needs of the Indian consumer in the decades to come.

“…SoftBank has a broad lens on the fundamental trends shaping digital commerce in the region. The opportunity to meet consumer demand for high-quality selection at low prices and a young population make online consumption critical to India’s quest for the ‘USD 5 trillion economy’ that Flipkart’s growth story has been enabling, Jett added.

Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International, pointed out that Flipkart has continued to innovate in the categories and services Indian customers want most, creating new jobs and growth opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs and small businesses alongside them.

With more than 350 million registered users from across the country, Flipkart has been investing in key categories, including fashion, travel and grocery. Venturing into the social commerce space, Flipkart recently announced the launch of Shopsy that will encourage local entrepreneurship.

More than 3 lakh registered sellers from across the country are on Flipkart’s marketplace, and 60 per cent are from tier II cities and beyond. Flipkart also works with more than 1.6 million kiranas in India through its wholesale business and last-mile delivery programme.

JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited and Goldman Sachs & Co LLC served as placement agents to Flipkart in connection with this transaction, while Hogan Lovells and Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co served as legal counsel.

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