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Reliance in talks to acquire e-pharmacy startup Netmeds

In the past three years Reliance has spent USD 3 billion to acquire technology startups to strengthen its position in India’s growing e-commerce space.

Photo by Simone van der Koelen on Unsplash

Reliance Industries, India’s largest conglomerate in terms of market capitalization with a wide ranging business spanning across crude oil, telecom, retail, and entertainment among others, plans to get into online pharmacy market to strengthen its e-commerce play.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned company is in discussions with online medicine delivery startup Netmeds to acquire a majority stake in the company, three people familiar with the development told local media Economic Times (ET) on the condition of anonymity.

If the deal goes through, Reliance might invest anywhere between USD 130 to 150 million in the Chennai-based online pharmacy company, through one of its subsidiaries. “The deal is happening at a slight premium to their last funding round valuation,” one of the sources told ET.

According to the same report, the acquisition discussion has been going on before the country went into the lockdown due to the novel coronavirus. The news comes on the heels of Reliance selling a 9.99% stake of Jio Platform to Facebook for USD 5.7 billion and another 1.15% for USD 747 million to private equity firm Silver Lake.

In the past three years Reliance has spent USD 3 billion to acquire several B2C and B2B  technology startups to strengthen its position in India’s growing e-commerce space. In 2019, it bought a majority stake in online-to-offline e-commerce company Fynd which counts Google among its backers. It also acquired Hyedrabad-based SaaS company NowFloats in December 2019. Reliance aims to be present in almost all sectors and till now has made acquisitions in robotics, gaming, music streaming, fintech, and e-commerce companies.

Launched in 2015 by Pradeep Dadha, Netmeds has made three acquisitions in clinic management and online consultation spaces. Netmeds had last raised USD 35 million in its Series C round in 2018 from Southeast Asian business group, Daun Penh’s investment holding and existing investors. It was in discussions with investors to raise USD 100 million for its Series D round but could only raise USD 33 million in debt from its parent company in September 2019. It has raised a total of USD 99 million so far.

The company, soon after the lockdown was announced in the country, forayed into online grocery delivery space as well. It partnered with Reliance Retail in April to source the products.