South African media giant, Naspers is leading $150-million investment in Indian online retailer Flipkart, a deal that will secure Flipkart’s finances for the next three years and also fits with Naspers’ ongoing strategy of acquiring stakes in fast growing internet businesses across the world.
Other investors involved in the deal include Iconiq Capital, with existing shareholders Tiger Global and Accel Partners also making follow-on investments.
The deal values Flipkart, India’s e-commerce leader, at around $800 million, with MIH India, an arm of Nasper, pumping over $90 million into the company and becoming the second largest shareholder after Tiger. Flipkart has been in serious need of funds due to tough market conditions and after losing heavily as it sought to establish a fully owned logistics board and a brand. Naspers, meanwhile, continues a policy of acquiring stakes in foreign companies that has saw income rise 15 per cent to 6.95 billion rand ($824 million) in the last financial year.
There has long been media speculation about Flipkart’s ability to raise large funding in the current market, and the new deal means they are less reliant on an overseas initial public offering (IPO). The company believes the money from Naspers and its partners is critical to their growth over the next three years, and will invest it in expanding supply chain capacities, launching new categories and growing the talent pool. “This round of funding would fuel our growth plans, and help us achieve our stated ambition of hitting $1 billion in gross merchandise value by 2015,” said Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal. Flipkart has now raised more than $300 million in four rounds of fund mop-up.
Naspers has been on an acquisition push for some time now, and is expanding its presence in digital and electronic payment markets. Naspers’ Indian arm already holds investments in photo sharing site Ibibo along with e-commerce site Tradus. The company spent 1.85 billion rand ($225 million) on acquisitions of internet services businesses last year, including 80 percent of Vipindirim Electronic Services Plc, a Turkish e-commerce company, 70 percent in eMAG, a Romanian online retailer, and majority stakes in Netretail SRO, a central European online retail business, and Internet Mall AS, a Prague-based site selling household goods. CEO Koos Bekker has claimed that he has no plans to slow down the pace of this push, and plans to make around 20 more acquisitions before March next year.