Paytm, India’s largest digital payments platform announced the acquisition of discovery and deals platforms for local merchants Nearby and Little Internet. According to the official statement, Paytm has arranged a merger of these two well funded startups.
Speaking about the acquisition and the subsequent merger, Paytm’s founder and CEO Vijay Sekhar Sharma said, “This combination of Nearby and Little marks a great opportunity for us to reinforce our commitment to support small and large retailers in the new age of mobile commerce and payments.”
Paytm, which has been attempting to expand its offline merchant base, became the majority shareholder of the merged entity through this strategic investment. Currently, Nearbuy and Little together have a network of 40,000 small and large merchants across food, beauty, travel and other categories. With a $ 25 million capital infusion from Paytm, the merged entity is expected to be valued at $ 100 million.
The online payments and ecommerce company initially acquired 100% equity in Little and gained majority shareholding in the merged entity through a share swap with Nearbuy. Along with Paytm, Sequoia India and the founders of Nearbuy Ankur Warikoo, Ravi Shankar and Snehesh Mitra have a minority stake in the merged firm.
Founded by SoSasta, Nearby was acquired by NASDAQ listed Groupon Inc., in 2011 and was renamed as Groupon India in 2013. Without giving out any details regarding the transaction, Nearby’s CEO Ankur Waikoo said, “In the local commerce space, Little Internet and Nearbuy combined will own 88% of the market share. There are around half a million merchants in the organized retail space, which we would like to bring on our platform.”
Launched in 2015, Little was backed by Paytm since the beginning with a $50 million investment along with SAIF Partners and Tiger Global Management. It is still unclear if Paytm bought out SAIF and Tiger’s stake in Little. Paytm has been aggressively expanding its services in categories which use digital payments services. The company also raised $ 1.4 billion in fresh funding from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., in May this year.
Walmart To Invest In Flipkart. Should Amazon Be Worried?
The world’s biggest retailer, Walmart Stores Inc., is in talks to invest in homegrown ecommerce firm Flipkart to acquire a minority stake. According to people close to the development, the deal could be finalized as soon as March this year.
The retailer has reportedly started advanced talks to buy a 15% to 20% stake in Amazon.com Inc’s main competitor. The Economic Times reported, Walmart’s Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon along with ecommerce CEO Marc Lore and future CEO and President Judith McKenna visited Flipkart’s Bengaluru office early last week.
Both Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment regarding the rumors stating, “As a policy, we don’t comment on market speculation.” Walmart spokesperson added, McMillon had been in the country to review its three units in the country.
This potential investment by the retail giant in Flipkart could mar Amazon’s expansion in India. On the global front, Amazon acquired the 400 store network of Whole Foods last year. In India, Amazon has invested close to $ 3 billion in Amazon Seller Services in line with Jeff Bezos’ commitment to invest $ 5 billion in the Indian retail industry.
Walmart’s investment in Flipkart combined with backing from SoftBank could provide the homegrown ecommerce firm the firepower to capture the majority of the market share. In September last year, Walmart completed the $3 billion acquisition of Jet.com following which the company further acquired 15 startups seeking talent and technology to make it a dominant online player as well.
Last year, Flipkart claimed to have a higher sale during the festive season sale, beating Amazon for the top spot. Although Amazon refuted the claim, Flipkart reported a 43% rise in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) for the six months quarter which ended on 30 September 2017. Amazon Inc., on the other hand, claims it is the second largest player in traffic, accounting for 58% traffic on personal computers, 129% on mobile web and has 52% more app downloads.
The Indian food retail industry has been gaining a lot of attention from international investors including Alibaba which is in talks to buy 40% stake in BigBasket. If Walmart’s investment in Flipkart goes through, the Indian ecommerce industry could see a significant change soon.
Amazon To Strengthen Amazon India With Another Investment
Amazon.com, the global ecommerce giant, is investing another $306 million in its Indian arm Amazon Seller Services Pvt., Ltd., as a continuation of its quick pace of investments in the country. According to filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC,) Amazon Inc., and its Singapore based division, Amazon Corporate Holdings Pvt., Ltd., made the investment in the Indian arm.
According to a news daily, this record capital will add more firepower to the Indian arm as retail giant accelerates efforts to race past larger domestic rival Flipkart. In 2017-2018, Amazon India has received Rs. 8,150 crores, or about $1.3 billion from its parent company. As per filings with the RoC filings, the latest capital infusion marks the fourth time Amazon has invested in India since Flipkart raised $ 4 billion from SoftBank last year.
In November last year, Amazon also invested Rs. 2,900 crores ($446 million) in its Indian unit, making it the single largest infusion into the country’s operations till date. Simultaneously, Amazon Seller Services also doubled its authorized share capital from Rs. 16,000 crores to Rs. 31,000 crores. Currently, the ecommerce firm claims to have over 250,000 registered sellers on its platform.
In 2015, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also committed to investing $ 5 billion in India towards acquiring new customers and growing market share. So far, the company has pumped in Rs. 19,790 crores, or about $3 billion, into Amazon Seller Services. Meanwhile, Amazon India’s subsidiaries Amazon Wholesale, Amazon Pay, Amazon Transport and Amazon Data Services have received a combined Rs. 2,868 crores since 2016. According to Indian corporate database Capitaline, Amazon is the second largest Indian company in terms of authorized capital, next to Reliance Jio at Rs. 61,000 crores.
The battle between homegrown ecommerce firm Flipkart and Amazon India is only expected to intensify as both the companies turn towards the grocery retail industry. Recently, Amazon India established a beachhead with Amazon Pantry and hyper local delivery service Amazon Now. At the same time, Flipkart relaunched its grocery delivery service supermart and is expected to expand the services to six cities, outlining this as a major focus area.
Swiggy To Raise $ 200 Million From Naspers and Tencent
Swiggy, one of India’s fastest growing online food ordering and delivery platform, is reportedly in talks with venture capital firms Naspers and Tencent to raise $ 200 million. The Bengaluru based foodtech startup initiated the discussions with Chinese investment conglomerate Tencent and existing investor Naspers for a potential investment.
A news daily reported, South African Internet group Naspers will be leading this round of funding according to three people briefed on the matter. This move to raise fresh capital comes after the company ended independent funding discussions with SoftBank and Flipkart for a $ 200 million investment. The sources also added this deal could value Swiggy at $ 600- $ 650 million before the investment. In the last Series E funding round where Swiggy raised $ 80 million from Naspers, SAIF Partners and others, the company was valued at $ 400 million.
According to sources, China based venture firm Tencent has been looking to co invest in Swiggy along with SoftBank before those discussions came to an end. However, Tencent will now be forging a strategic partnership with Naspers to join the Swiggy bandwagon as a new investor. Sources also suggest Tencent proposed to increase their investment in the startup to around $ 100 million.
The India foodtech industry is considered to be a very lucrative sector. In November last year, Swiggy was also reported to be in talks with rival restaurant discovery and food delivery rival Zomato for a stock based merger. However, Swiggy later denied all rumors stating the company would not like to comment on baseless speculations. Swiggy was launched in 2014 by Sriharsha Majety, Nandan Reddy, and Rahul Jaimini and since then the company grew fastest in terms of revenue. For the financial year 2016 – 2017 Swiggy’s revenue grew by six times to $ 20.6 million as losses increased by 50%. In the past three years, the foodtech firm has also managed to raise close to $155 million in equity and $8 million in debt.
After the entry of global taxi hailing startup Uber launched their food delivery service UberEATS in India, Ola also recently acquired food delivery startup Foodpanda to enter the foodtech industry.
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