In India, investments by Son, with SoftBank and the Vision Fund, is valued at over $6 billion, with stakes in taxi-hailing app Ola, hotel room aggregator Oyo Rooms, advertisement aggregator InMobi, a joint venture with Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn for setting up solar and wind farms, besides those in Snapdeal and Paytm. The U.S. giant had past year more than doubled its investment in India to $5 billion in a bid to turn it into its largest market after the U.S.
Flipkart's balance sheet has now been boosted to more than $4bn of cash on its balance sheet. This investment is an extension of Flipkart's funding round in April this year, when Tencent, ebay and Microsoft invested in the company.
"This is a monumental deal for Flipkart and India".
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Flipkart said the SoftBank investment, which is the biggest-ever private investment in an Indian technology company, will make the Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in the online retailer. Ten days ago, the merger negotiations between Flipkart and Snapdeal failed; as the majority stakeholder in Snapdeal, SoftBank is believed to have written off its estimated $900-million investment in the firm.
Meanwhile, Amazon has been making moves of its own. Till date, Flipkart has raised about $4.6 Bn funding in 14 rounds, excluding the current round. Amazon's entry into India in 2013 had eroded Flipkart's cash further as it struggled to compete with the USA company offering steep discounts. "In Indian e-commerce, Flipkart is doing that every day", said Masayoshi Son, Founder and Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., who previously publicly announced his long-term commitment to investing in India.
"India is a land of vast opportunity", Mr. Son said in a statement. But its efforts were thwarted after the founders of Snapdeal -Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal - resolved to stay independent.
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Flipkart is the biggest ecommerce firm in India, with around 37% market share, according to industry estimates.
This is an alpha moment not only for the e-commerce market, but also for the Indian tech ecosystem.
On Softbank's strategy in the India and globally, experts are of the view that the bank with its $100-billion fund wants to invest smaller amounts in several growth-stage companies and want to cross leverage the companies to fight against the largest player, which is Amazon.
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Goldman Sachs and Citi advised Flipkart and SoftBank Vision Fund, respectively on the investment deal.