With sovereign wealth funds from other countries making investments in startups, it would be remiss for India’s sovereign wealth fund were to miss out. Now, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has made its first investment in a new-age company – it led a $240-million secondary funding round in Mahindra-backed, baby products e-commerce firm FirstCry, and bought stock worth $100 million.
NIIF has received the green light from the CCI to invest, and according to a CCI notification, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund-II will buy shares of Brainbees Solutions Pvt Ltd under Section 5(a) of the Competition Act, 2002.
The secondary funding round included participation from existing investor Premji Invest (which purchased additional shares) and NewQuest Capital Parners, SoftBank, and Chiratae Ventures as well. The final three sold shares as part of the transaction. SoftBank’s current stake in FirstCry parent Brainbees Solutions stands at around 30%.
This brings the amount of minor primary capital raised by FirstCry to nearly $15 million in the past 12-18 months. This also comes after the $315 million secondary share sale it had conducted in March in 2021 from TPG, ChrysCapital, and Premji Invest. At that time, it was valued at around $1.9-$2.1 billion.
With over 2,00,000 products across 6000 brands and more than 400 stores, FirstCry claims to be Asia’s largest online store for baby and kids products, ranging from clothing to school essentials. Launched in 2010, the Pune-based online-first baby products retailer had merged with rival BabyOye in 2016 to become the leader in the segment. It also ventured into the pre-primary education segment in 2019 as it acquired Oi Playschool for an undisclosed amount.
Founded by Supam Maheshwari, Prashant Jadhav, Sanket Hattimattur, and Amitava Saha, FirstCry entered the unicorn club last February after raising $300 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund II.
It is owned and operated by BrainBees Solutions Private Limited, and used to own Expressbees, which may become a unicorn in its own right soon. Today, around 13 million parents engage on the platform every month. It signed Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador in 2015.
As for NIIF, it has assets of over $4.5 billion under management and manages three funds – the Master Fund, the Fund of Funds, and the Strategic Fund.