Flipkart is getting the ultimate endorsement. Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) is looking to pick up a stake in the Indian e-commerce outfit a second time as part of a $3 billion fundraising round that will value it at $40 billion. The Japanese backer sold its initial investment of at least $2.5 billion to current majority-owner Walmart (WMT.N) in 2018 at a valuation some 60% higher than what it paid, bagging a substantial profit.
Son’s shopping spree in India has been a mixed bag, however. Three years ago, SoftBank and its Vision Fund had backed all the major local operators up against Amazon (AMZN.O), sitting on stakes in Snapdeal and Alibaba-backed (9988.HK) Paytm E-Commerce (PAYT.NS). Of the lot, only Flipkart has emerged as a serious competitor.
SoftBank’s double dip underscores Flipkart’s long growth trajectory ahead. Although the pandemic has been a boon, major cities like Mumbai restricted e-commerce to essential items during this year’s lockdown, holding back sales. Seeking outside investors and delaying a hotly anticipated U.S. initial public offering to next year will allow it to present better numbers. (By Una Galani)