SoftBank Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Flipkart
SoftBank Group is still in talks to invest in India’s Flipkart – despite the collapse of discussions to fold a smaller rival into India’s largest e-commerce site – but it would do so through its Vision Fund, according to sources familiar with the matter.
SoftBank, already invested in Indian online grocer Grofers and cab hailing firm Ola, tried for months to engineer a share swap transaction between Snapdeal and Flipkart, India’s two main homegrown e-commerce companies.
That deal would have given SoftBank, as Snapdeal’s largest shareholder, a significant stake in Flipkart – but it was scuppered on Monday, in the face of opposition from Snapdeal’s founders, Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal.
Three sources, who declined to be identified as the discussions were private, said SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son was still eager to invest in Flipkart through his Vision Fund, in which Saudi Arabia is also a major stakeholder.
The Vision Fund’s planned investment is not dependent on a deal between Snapdeal and Flipkart, one of the sources said.
Flipkart, the most significant Indian challenger to US retail giant Amazon’s ambitions in the country, declined to comment on the matter. A spokeswoman for SoftBank said the Vision Fund “follows an independent process and judges every investment on its own merit”. Snapdeal also declined to comment.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Tuesday that the fund could invest up to $2 billion (roughly Rs. 12,815 crores) in Flipkart.
The Vision Fund, created by the tech-to-solar conglomerate, has raised more than $93 billion from investors including Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund and Apple.