Film Actor Salman Khan has picked up a minority stake in the online travel portal Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd, in what appears to be an endorsement deal, according to a report by Livemint. While the report didn’t reveal the financial details of the deal or the amount of stake received by the actor, a similar The Economic Times report quotes a company official stating that the actor has received less than 5% stake in Yatra.
Now these type of ‘Endorsements in return for a stake’ deals are not uncommon. Typically online ventures bring aboard celebrities as a part of their promotional strategy to create buzz, and add a glamour quotient. For instance, Yatra has announced that it intends to soon launch a marketing campaign featuring Salman Khan in order to leverage his mass appeal to promote its new product offerings and target customers in smaller towns. In December 2011, Babyoye.com, the baby products focused e-commerce venture, had issued stake to the film actress Karishma Kapoor, although the company made all efforts to clarify that the deal wasn’t just an endorsement. Before that, Shilpa Shetty had invested in a real estate group buying site GroupHomeBuyers.com, Zaheer Khan invested in a fashion brand ‘Sher Singh’, Yuvraj Singh invested in the e-commerce venture Exclusively.in, Ajay Devgan & Sanjay Dutt launched an online ticketing venture Ticketplease.com and Neha Dhupia had launched an e-commerce portal HerStyle.in featuring her own line of lingerie and shoes. Actor, Amitabh Bachchan also owns shares in JustDial.
As per filings made with India’s Registrar of Companies by Yatra Online Private Limited, it’s income for the financial year ending 31st March 2011 was Rs. 132.77 crore compared to Rs 109.86 crore that it reported in the last financial year. The company reported a Loss before tax of Rs. 38.95 crore, and a Loss After Tax of the same amount. The company had reported a loss after tax of Rs 8.18 crore, last year. In terms of segment revenue, Yatra reports all sales under travel related services, business segment. All shares of the company are held by Yatra’s overseas holding companies, Yatra Online (Cyprus) and Yatra Online (Cayman Island).
Yatra is currently backed by a series of investors including Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), Reliance ADA Group’s Reliance Venture Asset Management, Television 18 (TV18) Group, and Intel Capital. In April 2011, the company had raised Rs 200 crores funding from Valiant Capital Management, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP) and Intel Capital in order to expand its hotels and holidays business and make acquisitions.
In Jan 2012, Yatra acquired the events listing site BuzzInTown. Before that, it had also acquired a b2b hotel aggregation and reservation company, MagicRooms, through its hotels subsidiary Intech Hotel Solutions. The company claims to provide reservation facility for more than 3,800 hotels across 336 cities in India and over 90,000 hotels around the world. It had reportedly recorded an average monthly revenue of $60 million clocking over 10,000 tickets and 600 rooms a day.