Flipkart, from online bookseller to India’s biggest e-commerce company

Flipkart, from online bookseller to India’s biggest e-commerce company
Highlights

Walmart is likely to announce its much-anticipated deal to buy a controlling stake in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart today, in what is likely to be the US retail giant’s biggest acquisition.

Ahead of its acquisition by US-based Walmart, a look at Flipkart’s journey from an online seller of books to India’s first billion dollar Indian e-commerce company

Walmart is likely to announce its much-anticipated deal to buy a controlling stake in Indian e-commerce company Flipkart today, in what is likely to be the US retail giant’s biggest acquisition.

Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart and its partner in the deal, Google parent Alphabet Inc, are looking to buy up to three quarters of Flipkart. Walmart will look to own a roughly 60% stake, while Alphabet will get about 15% ownership of the online marketplace, sources added.

The deal is likely to value Flipkart at roughly $18 billion to $20 billion.

The company was founded in 2007 in Bengaluru by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. The Bansals, who are not related, met in 2005 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. They are both former employees of Amazon. At first, Flipkart sold books, and later expanding to sell music, movies, games, electronics and mobiles. Electronics and mobile sales have driven growth at the company.

The first book Flipkart sold was John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. It launched its logistics arm Ekart in 2010, and first started the now popular cash-on-delivery service.

Flipkart opened its first office in Bengaluru in 2008, and then expanded to open offices in Delhi and Mumbai in 2009. Last month, Flipkart consolidated all its Bengaluru offices in one large campus. In 2011, Flipkart domiciled to Singapore, as it looked to woo foreign investors to fund rapid growth.

The first billion-dollar Indian e-commerce company, Flipkart sells 8 million products across 80 plus categories. It has 100 million registered users, 100,000 sellers, 21 warehouses, 10 million daily page visits.

The people

In 2016, Binny Bansal took over as CEO and Sachin Bansal became executive chairman. Last year, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, previously an executive in Flipkart investor Tiger Global, took over as Flipkart CEO. With that, Binny Bansal became CEO of the whole group, which includes fashion portals Myntra-Jabong, payments unit PhonePe and logistics firm Ekart.

The company’s board has seven members. Dropbox Inc’s chief technology officer, Aditya Agarwal, joined the board in 2014.

Mergers and acquistions

•Bought online apparel retailer Myntra in a deal pegged by sources at about $300 million in 2014, and another retailer Jabong for $70 million in 2016.

•Last year, Flipkart offered to buy rival Snapdeal but the deal fell through. SoftBank, Flipkart’s largest investor, also has a stake in Snapdeal, as does China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

•Flipkart bought payment startup PhonePe in 2016.

•In exchange for an equity stake in Flipkart, eBay agreed to make a $500 million cash investment in and sell its eBay.in business to Flipkart in 2017.

Investors

•Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp owns a fifth of Flipkart through its Vision Fund. SoftBank expected to sell its whole stake in the Walmart deal, Reuters reported last week.

•Early investors New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global and U.S. private-equity firm Accel Partners will sell a majority of their stakes, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

•Other investors include the founders and Napsers Ltd. China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd, eBay Inc and Microsoft Corp invested $1.4 billion last year.

Financials, according to filings sourced by business intelligence platform paper.vc:

•Flipkart Group’s consolidated loss attributable to owners of the company in fiscal 2017 widened to Rs 87.70 billion, from Rs 52.16 billion a year earlier.

•Consolidated revenue jumped 29 percent to Rs 198.55 billion in fiscal 2017.

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