askme

The leadership team of local classifieds business AskMe has made a bid to buy out Astro’s stake in the business, Manav Sethi, the companys marketing and communication head for India and Malaysia has told told MediaNama. Sethi told MediaNama that “Astro is pulling out of all business its investments in India, because of the political and legal issues. The AskMe Group has made a management buyout bid, and leadership team is working towards taking over the company and is in advanced discussions with a few strategic and financial entities for next round of growth capital.” AskeMe’s parent company is Getit Infomedia, which Astro had acquired 50% stake in, in 2010, for around $20 million.

Yesterday, VCCircle reported that Astro is looking to exit Getit. Last month, Discovery Channel acquired a majority stake in FoodFood, a channel which Astro had launched as a joint venture, with Mogae Consultants and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Astro had picked up 50% in Mogae in 2009.

Note that Astro All Asia Networks Ltd had been charge sheeted by India’s top investigating agency CBI in the Aircel Maxis case, where money laundering has been alleged. More on that here.

AskMe’s initiatives and challenges

This comes a little over a month after there were between 300 to 650 employees reportedly laid off AskMe, though Sethi had said then that the company had moved employee, such as a copywriting and creative team, to partners, “whose cost structures are much lower than ours.” It’s worth noting that Business Standard had reported in April, quoting an unnamed employee, that Astro was not interested in funding Getit, Helion Venture partners had not shown any interest in doing a bridge round, and the company was running out of funds. Helion had picked up 10% in AskMe in 2008, for Rs 20 crore.

Also in April, AskMe had announced plans to expand its Grocery business from 38 cities to 80 cities by the end of the year, claiming to do 20,000 deliveries per day, accounting for Rs 3.5 to 4 crore daily. The company partners with local grocery chains to deliver to its users, without keeping the inventory. In May last year, it had acquired BestatLowest for an undisclosed amount. In August last year, it had acquired a majority stake in online furniture marketplace MebelKart, and had plans to invest $20 million in the business over three years. Getit also has an SME portal called Askmebazaar.

 

We’ll update when we have more info.