Update: VV Raju, founder of Way2SMS told MediaNama that “We have got our company back, and the deal has been reversed.” In response to our question on whether there are any cases pending between the companies, Raju said that all cases have either been disposed off or withdrawn.
Confirmed: ValueFirst and Way2SMS have settled their acquisition dispute. Vishwadeep Bajaj, CEO of ValueFirst, has confirmed to MediaNama that an out of court settlement was reached with Way2SMS, by virtue of which promoters of Way2SMS have got possession of the business, and ValueFirst has gotten its money back. A statement from Bajaj to MediaNama:
“ValueFirst has set its vision firmly on becoming the most preferred digital media company in India. To this end, we continue to invest in organic digital assets and are constantly evaluating acquisitions as well. In this direction we recently launched, fullonbids.com, India’s first free reverse bidding site. Also planned in the same line is one more acquisition due for completion in the coming weeks.
We confirm that we have reversed the way2sms.com deal by mutual consent of both the parties – we have got our money back and have returned the way2sms shares.
We are a very high growth company and we prefer acquisitions that have close alignment to our strategy and we will continue to be on the lookout for such opportunities.”
When we tried contacting VV Raju, founder of Way2SMS, his number was busy. We’ll update with an official response from the company when we get it.
Not Lost the Legal Battle
Sources (whose independence we cannot ascertain) had informed MediaNama (and it appears, NextBigWhat too) that the court had:
1. Restricted VF On acquisition related further transfer of movable/immovable assets from way2online to valuefirst
2. Restricted VF from using Way2online bank accts and fund transfers from way2online to valuefirst.
3. Restricted VF from any further share transfers to any one or sale of way2online assets
They had pointed towards a Delhi High Court order (read it here), which had stayed the transfer of assets till the next hearing. This is standard, but those who tipped us off incorrectly positioned it as an endgame, and as if ValueFirst had lost the case, as has been reported by NextBigWhat.
Our reading of the court order (incidentally, dated 9th of October 2012) was that it was an interim injunction, hence no case had been lost. The court order states:
“Till the next date of hearing Respondent No.1 is directed to maintain status quo with regard to the assets, both movable and immovable, transferred from Respondent No. 6 to Respondent No.1 and no further transfer of assets should be made from Respondent No. 6 to Respondent No. 1 till the next date. This is made further subject to the Petitioner invoking the arbitration clause within ten days from today.”
A subsequent order, dated 11th of January 2013 states that the matter has been settled amicably, and hence is disposed off.
The stand-off over the acquisition took place following an FIR being lodged by ValueFirst against its former CEO Kumar Apurva, alleging a fraud of Rs 7 crore in the Way2SMS acquisition. We’re awaiting a response from Bajaj regarding the status of that case, and will update in case we hear from him.