Three years after its mega exit from Flipkart, Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is reportedly finding its way back to the Indian e-commerce retailer as the world’s second-most-populous country is currently going through a massive digital adoption.
The Tokyo-headquartered firm is in discussions to put a USD 700 million check in Flipkart, which was bought out by Walmart for USD 16 billion in May 2018.
Various local reports said that the deal, which is part of a larger funding round of up to between USD 1.5 and 2 billion, is likely to value Flipkart at USD 28 billion. Sovereign wealth funds like Abu Dhabi’s ADQ and Canada’s CPPIB are said to be coming on Flipkart’s cap board.
Flipkart’s valuation may touch USD 30 billion and hike even further, depending on the final set of investors. Existing investors including Prosus, the investment arm of South African conglomerate Naspers and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, may also participate in the deal, which is expected to close in the next three to four months.
The new funding round may delay Flipkart’s IPO plans a bit. The e-tailer was reported to be aiming for a public listing in the US in the fourth quarter of 2021. Now it may go for an IPO in the next 12–18 months, by when its valuation is expected to shoot up to USD 35–40 billion.
Previously, SoftBank had invested USD 2.5 billion in Flipkart in August 2017. It sold its approximately 20% stake in the company to Walmart for USD 4 billion, raking in a profit of USD 1.5 billion, a year later.
The development comes at a time when Flipkart is fighting tooth and nail with rival Amazon, which has invested over USD 7 billion in India over the last seven years. Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based Flipkart is also trying to fend off Indian conglomerates Reliance and Tata, which are sharpening their focus on the Indian e-commerce market that is projected to touch USD 111 billion by 2024.
Of late, SoftBank has begun making big bets in the country after tightening its purse strings last year as its own business turns around. Rumor has it that SoftBank is close to making investments in food tech giant Swiggy and business-to-business marketplace OfBusiness.