Big Deal: Corporates cash in as Walmart buys $16bn stake in Flipkart
Posted on 17 May, 2018 by Robert Lavine, news editor, Global Corporate Venturing
Walmart invested in the GIC-backed e-commerce platform at a $20.8bn valuation, allowing SoftBank, Naspers and eBay to achieve billion-dollar returns.
Big-box retailer Walmart confirmed last week that it has agreed to pay $16bn for a 77% stake in India-based e-commerce marketplace Flipkart, giving several corporates billion-dollar exits.
The purchase is the largest M&A transaction in the venture capital space since Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp in early 2014, though Walmart’s valuation of $20.8bn in the deal arguably makes it even bigger.
Founded in 2007 as a book specialist, Flipkart has built a diversified e-commerce platform that sells products across more than 80 categories. Walmart first expressed interest in investing in the company in 2016.
The company, which had raised about $7.2bn in funding prior to Walmart’s investment, grew its net sales by more than 50% to $4.6bn in the year ending March 31, 2018, according to Walmart.
Telecommunications and internet group SoftBank’s Vision Fund scored the biggest exit in the deal, getting just over $4bn, after paying $2.5bn for a stake of about 20% in Flipkart in August 2017.
Naspers, the e-commerce and media company that had been an investor in Flipkart since 2012 when it bought a 10% share for $102m, sold its 11.2% stake for $2.2bn, which it said represented a 32% internal rate of return.
Naspers had since participated in several of Flipkart’s funding rounds, most recently committing $71m to a $1.4bn round in April 2017 that included internet company Tencent, e-commerce firm eBay and software provider Microsoft, at an $11.6bn valuation, after which it held a 16% stake.
Tencent and Microsoft will retain shares of Flipkart, the company said in a statement, but eBay, which invested $500m in the company in the April round, is divesting its stake for $1.1bn.
The company, which sold its eBay.in business to Flipkart as part of the April transaction, plans to relaunch its operations in India, most likely under the eBay.in brand, for which it is withdrawing the licence from Flipkart.
The other big winner is hedge fund manager Tiger Global Management which, after initially investing $9m in Flipkart in 2009 and providing a total of about $1bn altogether, is receiving approximately $3bn from a stake sale, a person familiar with the matter told DealStreetAsia.
Venture capital firm Accel, which became Flipkart’s first significant investor with an $800,000 investment in 2008, has maintained a stake since then, and will sell most of a share that a person familiar with Accel’s returns told Recode is worth about $1.1bn in total.
Other past investors include media group Bennett, Coleman & Co, which provided $39m in February 2017, Baillie Gifford, Greenoaks Capital, IDG Ventures India, Qatar Investment Authority, the Singaporean state-owned GIC, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Accel, Steadview Capital, Iconiq Capital, DST Global, Sofina and T. Rowe Price.
Walmart, which runs 21 cash-and-carry stores and one fulfilment centre across 19 Indian cities, will retain separate branding to Flipkart, which still plans to go public in the future, according to the statement announcing the investment.
Flipkart co-founder and CEO Binny Bansal, who will retain a share of the company when the transaction closes, said: “While e-commerce is still a relatively small part of retail in India, we see great potential to grow.
“Walmart is the ideal partner for the next phase of our journey, and we look forward to working together in the years ahead to bring our strengths and learnings in retail and e-commerce to the fore.”
- A version of this article originally appeared on Global Corporate Venturing.
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