The Indian healthcare sector has gone online in recent times, a trend that has only seen acceleration due to the pandemic. On the digital space, it is getting out of its nascent stage with a host of acquisitions and consolidations – Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance acquiring Netmeds last year, Apollo creating the country’s largest omnichannel digital health platform by merging its pharmacy businesses and telemedicine verticals into a single entity called Apollo HealthCo, and the multimillion-dollar deal between Tata Sons’ subsidiary Tata Digital and 1mg.

This time, it is PharmEasy making the headlines. The online pharmacy start-up is set to acquire a stake of 66.1% in diagnostics chain Thyrocare Technologies for ₹4, 546 crores, according to an exchange filing made on Friday. The deal, while big o paper, also signifies India’s rapidly evolving health-tech space, considering how a startup gets to acquire a listed, over 3 decades old, traditional diagnostics firm.

You may remember that PharmEasy, whose parent company API Holdings acquired Medlife not too long ago, making it the largest online pharmacy in the country, was one of the start-ups to evolve into a unicorn during the “unicorn spree” in April. With this acquisition, it is the first instance of a listed company being acquired by an Indian unicorn. PharmEasy had earlier acquired Ascent Health as well. This acquisition will increase PharmEasy’s offline presence in the diagnostics space through a network of over 3,300 collection centers.

As part of the transaction, Thyrocare promoter A. Velumani would invest close to ₹1500 crores in API Holdings for a 5% stake. Velumani and Thyrocare affiliates will also be sharing their stake at ₹1300 per share. Docon Technologies, a unit of API Holdings, will acquire the majority stake in the diagnostic chain at ₹1,300 per share, triggering an open offer for the purchase of an additional 26% stake in the company.

“We will provide a world-class customer experience in diagnostics, rivaling our pharmacy experience by leveraging technology and building on top of the massive scale and truly pan-India presence of Thyrocare. It is our aim to deliver all out-patient healthcare products and services to every Indian within 24 hours,” API Holdings CEO Siddharth Shah said in a statement.

With a user base of 12 million, a network of 6,000 digital consultation clinics and 90,000 partner retailers across the country, and serving the pharmacy and diagnostic needs of more than 1 million patients, PharmEasy’s current valuation comes up to $4 billion. According to people aware of the matter, current investors of PharmEasy are looking to bring in more capital to finance the deal. Tiger Global is in the final stages of talks to invest in the e-pharmacy.

“I am excited about this relationship, unique of its kind in the Indian healthcare industry. The unique reach and strength of Thyrocare in diagnostics blended with the young and dynamic team of PharmEasy will bring in better healthcare solutions for common man nationwide,” Velumani said, adding that Thyrocare’s unique reach and strength in diagnostics combined with PharmEasy’s young and dynamic team would usher in better healthcare solutions for the people.