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Flipkart raises $2.5 billion from SoftBank’s Vision Fund


Shortly after merger talks with Snapdeal collapsed, Flipkart has raised investment from SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund. The Economic Times pegs the deal at $2.5-2.6 billion investment which will make the Vision Fund one of the biggest shareholders in the company.

The investment is a mix of primary and secondary capital and the ET reports that it will give a partial exit to Flipkart’s biggest backer Tiger Global. The company added that the investment was part of the previous financing round, where Flipkart had raised capital from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft.

“After this financing round, Flipkart will have in excess of $4 billion of cash on balance sheet,” the company said in its press release.’

SoftBank was supposed to invest $1.5-2 billion in the proposed merged Snapdeal-Flipkart entity, but after the talks fell through, SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said that he respects the decision of the founders and decided to focus the fund’s effort in Flipkart.

The SoftBank Group created the new fund to invest as much as $100 billion in the technology sector globally over the next five years. The Vision Fund saw participation from Saudi Arabia’s  Public Investment Fund and will be managed by the company’s UK subsidiary.

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Fight with Amazon

For nearly two years, the battle for dominance in e-commerce was a three-way race between Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. In recent times, Snapdeal has lost out in the number of orders and users while the others have grown the share.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, continues to be bullish on India, the company’s second largest market following the United States. Last month, Amazon has invested a further Rs 1680 crore into the India unit. This investment is part of the $3 billion the company committed to infusing into its India unit in June last year. Currently, Amazon’s total investment commitment in India stands at $5 billion: the $3 billion announced in June 2016, plus the $2 billion investment announced back in July 2014, which the company has already completed in phases over the past two years.

So far, Snapdeal has raised close to $1.78 billion with SoftBank investing as much as $1.27 billion in the company. The company raised $21 million from Luxemburg based investor Clouse SA last. This was an addition to a previously announced funding tranche in February 2016. After the merger talks fell through, Snapdeal cut down its workforce by 80% and decided to pursue its own path.

Payments and e-commerce capabilities

Interestingly, Paytm has raised funding from $1.4 billion from SoftBank Group Corp this year. At this point, Paytm, Flipkart and Amazon are trying to build capabilities in e-commerce and payments. Following getting a payments bank licence from the Reserve Bank of India, Paytm spun off its e-commerce business as a separate entity and raised $200 million from Alibaba.

Meanwhile, Flipkart acquired payments company PhonePe and hived it as a separate business unit. PhonePe has a unified payments interface (UPI) app in partnership with Yes Bank. Recently, the company confirmed to MediaNama that it is getting into offline commerce – an area where Paytm dominates – and partnered with offline chains such as Apollo Pharmacy, Barista, Café Coffee Day, Spencer’s, KFC among others.

Amazon India has also got a wallet licence from the Reserve Bank of India and launched a service called Amazon Pay. The wallet service can be loaded with digital cash using credit and debit cards and net banking. Users can shop on the ecommerce website using this balance. It also works as a a refund option and as a faster check out option: Amazon claims that via Amazon Pay, refunds for orders will be processed in 24 hours while ensuring faster checkout at the payment stage. Recently, it started mobile phone recharges and the wallet balance  can be used for other apps/services like AbhiBus, Faasos, Justickets, Haptik, Housejoy, Box8, Byjus, Café Coffee Day outlets among others.

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