ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Startups

SoftBank returns in Flipkart's $3.6bn funding round

Appetite for Indian startups strong as Chinese tech comes under scrutiny

Masayoshi Son's Softbank Group is back after previously selling its stake in India's Flipkart. (Source photos by Masaru Shioyama and AP)

TOKYO -- India's leading online retailer Flipkart on Monday said it raised $3.6 billion from a group of investors in a deal that valued the company at $37.6 billion.

The funding round was led by Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, SoftBank Group's Vision Fund 2 and U.S. retailer Walmart, according to Flipkart. Tencent Holdings, Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Berhad and other investors also participated.

The deal is India's biggest funding round this year, and cements Flipkart's position as one of the country's most valuable companies. It comes more than three years after Walmart acquired a 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion, and marks the return of SoftBank, which had sold its stake as part of that transaction, as an investor.

The rise in its valuation is a sign of strong investor appetite as some Indian tech companies, including food delivery company Zomato, gear up for a stock market debut. It also comes at a time when U.S.-listed Chinese tech companies are under intense regulatory scrutiny.

Flipkart confirmed plans to go public but did not elaborate on timing. A spokesperson said: "It is our continued aspiration to make the company public, and our plans remain unchanged."

"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," Flipkart Chief Executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy said in a news release. It will focus on accelerating growth for millions of small and medium Indian businesses, including small mom-and-pop stores known as "kiranas," utilizing the funds raised.

Flipkart has more than 350 million registered users and more than 300,000 registered sellers.   © Reuters

The funding is likely to intensify competition for dominance of Indian e-commerce as consumers and retailers flock online to cope with COVID-19 restrictions.

Flipkart said it has more than 350 million registered users and more than 300,000 registered sellers. The company also owns a major stake in payment app PhonePe.

SoftBank is the largest outside shareholder in China's Alibaba Group Holding, and also backs Coupang, a South Korean e-commerce company that went public in the U.S. in March. SoftBank's track record in e-commerce investment gives it access to major funding opportunities.

SoftBank invested in Flipkart in 2017 through its first Vision Fund, after Flipkart's plan to buy another SoftBank investment, Snapdeal, fell apart earlier in the year. But the Vision Fund sold its stake in Flipkart less than a year later to Walmart.

The latest investment in Flipkart was "driven by our experience with and conviction in the company's management team," said Lydia Jett, a partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the Vision Fund.

Hopes for lucrative IPOs are driving capital into Indian tech companies, helping close the funding gap between startups in China. Ride-hailing company Ola last week said it raised $500 million from a group of investors, including Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek, ahead of its planned listing.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more