MediaNama had learnt from sources that Times Internet Limited (Indiatimes) has bought back Seqioua Capital India’s stake in the company. When contacted, Indiatimes CEO Rishi Khiani declined to confirm or deny the development, saying repeatedly “No confirmation and no comment.” Note that there was no denial either. Sequoia Capital India has also declined to comment. Please note that Times Internet Limited is no longer listed as one of Sequoia Capital’s India investments.
On 3rd October 2005, Indiatimes had issued Sequoia Capital India Investments Holdings II, 2,396,000 “Participatory Optionally Convertible Preference Shares” of Rs. 10 per share at a premium of Rs. 121.98 per share. At that time, this amounted to around $7 million. These shares were mandatorily convertible into equity shares latest by 26th October 2012, and could be redeemed by Sequoia Capital at any time after 26th October 2009. Sequoia Capital may have exercised that right, and redeemed the shares.
A lot has changed at Indiatimes since the day that WestBridge Capital Partners (which later merged with Sequoia Capital) invested in the company. At that time, particularly given Rediff’s NADSAQ listing and performance – a market cap of around $400 million, the company looked set for an IPO. Indiatimes was perceived to be the largest Indian portal, bigger than Rediff. Early in 2006, Dinesh Wadhawan was brought in as MD & CEO, having been part of the executive team that Vicinity Corporation public on NASDAQ. Wadhawan resigned earlier last year.
Now there’s a new management in place, with former Web18 COO Rishi Khiani at the helm, and apparently a new plan. From what we’ve heard from sources, there’s a significant push centered around leveraging the Times of India group’s content better, particularly on the mobile.