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Retail

Walmart's Flipkart Raises Fresh Funds As IPO Looms

Walmart Inc-owned Flipkart will double its valuation in less than three years to $37.6 billion after the latest funding that included SoftBank Group Corp, as the Indian online retailer gears up to go public later this year.

The US retail giant bought a 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion in 2018 and since then has expanded to small towns and cities, added more items such as furniture and grocery to its online store and increased its warehouses in its race with Amazon.com's India unit.

The Bengaluru-based company is aiming for a $50 billion valuation for its public listing and was in talks in the United States for a deal with a blank-check firm, people familiar with the matter told Reuters in March.

Fresh Funding Round

Its fresh funding round was led by investors GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Walmart and marks the return of SoftBank, which had sold its roughly 20% stake to Walmart during the 2018 deal.

"SoftBank's re-investment in Flipkart is driven by our experience with and conviction in the company's management team to continue addressing the needs of the Indian consumer in the decades to come," Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said.

Like its rival Amazon, Flipkart began by selling books, but diversified rapidly into sell selling smartphones, clothing and other items.

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart chief executive, said, "This investment by leading global investors reflects the promise of digital commerce in India and their belief in Flipkart’s capabilities to maximise this potential for all stakeholders.

"As we serve our consumers, we will focus on accelerating growth for millions of small and medium Indian businesses, including kiranas. We will continue to invest in new categories and leverage made-in-India technology to transform consumer experiences and develop a world-class supply chain."

Growth And Expansion

The new capital will be used to expand operations and invest further in the company's grocery, fashion and last-mile delivery programs, Flipkart said.

India's rapid smartphone adoption and cheap mobile data have propelled growth for digital startups that sell everything from groceries and cosmetics to smartphones and holidays.

Several prominent Indian startups too have spelt out plans to go public to cash in on liquidity by foreign funds. Some closely watched include food delivery startup Zomato, payments services PayTM, beauty brand Nykaa and ride-hailing service Ola.

Twenty-two companies have debuted this year as of 9 July. There were $3.6 billion worth of IPOs in India in the first half of 2021, up from $1.1 billion at the same time last year, according to Refinitiv.

The level so far this year is the highest since 2008.

News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM. For more Retail news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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