After 2020 caused a lot of damage to various sectors and industries, 2021 has emerged as a golden period for the Indian start-up ecosystem – it has already seen 11 Indian start-ups evolve into unicorns and raise a lot of capital, aided by investors like Falcon Edge and Tiger Global.
As Walmart-owned e-commerce firm Flipkart aims for an IPO in the final quarter of the year, the Bangalore-based start-up is in talks with a set of new investors to raise about $1 billion at up to a valuation of $30 billion (for Flipkart) in a financing round ahead of the IPO, a report by TC said. Flipkart was valued at about $24.9 billion last year after it had raised $1.2 billion in a Walmart-led round.
Flipkart, which dominates the apparel industry in India with a market share of 65-68%, had sold a majority stake to Walmart back in 2018 (Walmart currently has a share of 77.8% in Flipkart).
The capital raised from the pre-IPO financing round may be used to fuel Flipkart’s expansion and catalyze its sum-of-parts valuation while competing with powerhouses in the Indian market like Amazon and Reliance Jio. However, nothing may likely come to pass, as the discussions are still at an early stage.
“The capital raise is not being positioned as pre-IPO but for expansion. The management believes there is a lot of value that is trapped in each of its key verticals and the value of parts is more than the whole,” an executive said under condition of anonymity. “The price discovery process is still ongoing. Simultaneously, the US listing plans are ongoing with SPAC as a backup option.”
Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment on the matter.
Flipkart had a fruitful 2020, as people turned to online services after the pandemic disrupted daily life and confined them to their homes. The company’s monthly active customers grew to a record high, and even though it faced the brunt of the nationwide lockdown, “the business rebounded and exited Q4 with strong momentum, delivering GMV growth roughly double that of the full year,” said Judith McKenna, President and Chief Executive Officer of Walmart International, adding that more than 250 million customers in India engaged with Flipkart during festivals.
It is estimated that the Indian e-commerce market will reach more than 300 million customers by 2025, an achievement in a nation where the retail industry continues to be dominated by physical stores. The retail industry remains largely non-digitized despite the continued efforts of behemoths like Amazon.