Walmart infuses $1.2 bn in Flipkart, valuing e-commerce firm at $24.9 bn

Flipkart recently surpassed 1.5 billion visits per month and reported a 45-per cent growth in monthly active customers and 30-per cent growth in transactions per customer for FY20
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has led a $1.2-billion investment in Flipkart, valuing the  e-commerce firm at $24.9 billion.

In 2018, when Walmart invested $16 billion for a majority stake in Flipkart, the Bengaluru-based firm was valued at less than $21 billion. With the latest investment, Flipkart has widened the gap with the second-most valued start-up in India, Paytm, pegged at $16 billion. The distant third and fourth in the pecking order are Byju’s at $10.5 billion and Oyo at $10 billion. 

 The new investment would increase Walmart’s stake in Flipkart to about 80 per cent from 77 per cent now, according to sources. A group of other existing shareholders, including Tiger Global, Accel, and Tencent, has also participated in the new financing round but these are minority shareholders, according to the sources. 

The new announcement comes a day after global technology giant Google said it would invest $10 billion in India. The investment would be in the form of equity as well as forging partnerships and direct investment to build the supporting infrastructure, it added.  

In April, social media giant Facebook had announced picking up a minority stake in Reliance-backed Jio at $5.7 billion, making it the largest foreign direct investment in the technology space in India.

The Flipkart group said the equity investment would support the continued development of its e-commerce marketplace. It will be funded in two tranches over the rest of the financial year.

“Since Walmart’s initial investment in Flipkart, we have greatly expanded our offer through technology, partnerships, and new services,” said Flipkart Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kalyan Krishnamurthy.

“Today we lead in electronics and fashion, and are rapidly accelerating share in other general merchandise categories and grocery, all while providing increasingly seamless payment and delivery options for our customers. We will continue innovating to bring the next 200 million Indian shoppers online,” said Krishnamurthy.

According to industry insiders and analysts, the market opportunities for online commerce in the country are expected to touch $200 billion by 2028 from $30 billion in 2018.

The funding is expected to help Flipkart take on Jeff Bezos-led Amazon and Reliance Industries’ e-commerce venture JioMart.

Satish Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research, said Flipkart and Amazon were investing in their India operations because their entities here were not making good money. “This infusion is more relevant because of Flipkart’s entry into grocery and expanding those services in more cities,” said Meena. The new investment for Flipkart comes a few months after Bezos announced in January $1 billion to tap the e-commerce market in the country.

Amazon said it planned to create 1 million jobs in India by 2025 through investment in technology, infrastructure, and its logistics network. These will be in addition to the 700,000 jobs Amazon’s investments have enabled over the past six years in India. Amazon has so far committed for India $6.5 billion, including $1 billion announced by Bezos. The new investment also comes after Jio Platforms raised $15 billion from investors including Facebook and private equity firms such as Silver Lake and KKR over the past three months.

Founded in 2007, the Flipkart group includes Flipkart, digital payments platform PhonePe, fashion specialty site Myntra, and eKart, a logistics and delivery service focused on solving the last mile in India’s Tier II and Tier III cities.

Flipkart recently surpassed 1.5 billion visits per month and reported 45 per cent growth in monthly active customers and 30 per cent growth in transactions per customer for FY20. The company said it was democratising commerce by providing sellers and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) access to a national market and investing in technology such as voice assistants and local language interfaces to help make shopping easier for non-English speaking customers. Today, Flipkart offers 150 million products across more than 80 categories. 

The company said it had pioneered customer-centric services such as cash-on-delivery, no-cost EMI, and easy returns. PhonePe recently reported annualised payments value (TPV) of $180 billion on more than 500 million monthly transactions. “Flipkart continues to leverage its culture of innovation to accelerate growth and enable millions of customers, sellers, merchants and small businesses to prosper and be a part of India's digital transformation,” said Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International.

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