Walmart leads $1.2 billion investment in India’s Flipkart

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Walmart is increasing its majority-stake in Flipkart by leading a new $1.2 billion financing round in the Indian e-commerce giant. The fresh equity round led by Walmart, which acquired majority stake in Flipkart for $16 billion two years ago, values Flipkart at $24.9 billion post-money, the two companies said.

The American retail group said the fresh capital would help Flipkart, which was valued at $20.8 billion two years ago, further grow its e-commerce marketplace in India as the world’s second largest internet market begins to recover from Covid-19 crisis. A group of other existing investors also participated in the new financing round, a Flipkart spokesperson told TechCrunch but declined to identify them individually.

“We’re grateful for the strong backing of our shareholders as we continue to build our platform and serve the growing needs of Indian consumers during these challenging times,” said Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy in a statement.

“Since Walmart’s initial investment in Flipkart, we have greatly expanded our offer through technology, partnerships and new services. Today, we lead in electronics and fashion, and are rapidly accelerating share in other general merchandise categories and grocery, all while providing increasingly seamless payment and delivery options for our customers. We will continue innovating to bring the next 200 million Indian shoppers online,” he added.

Flipkart, which competes with Amazon in India, said its monthly active customers figure surged 45% in the financial year that ended in March this year, compared to the year before, and these customers are making 30% more transactions. The 13-year-old firm said it recently surpassed 1.5 billion visits per month.

The new capital infusion comes at a time when a new powerful player has started to make inroads in the Indian e-commerce market. JioMart, a joint venture between Reliance Retail (India’s largest retail chain) and Jio Platforms (India’s largest telecom operator), launched earlier this year in select sub urban areas of Mumbai and has since expanded to more than 200 cities and towns across the nation.

Amazon and Flipkart are still struggling to aggressively expand their footprint in India, where physical stores continue to drive the vast majority of retail sales. This is an area where JioMart appears to have an advantage — at least on paper. The platform could leverage from Reliance Retail’s vast presence in the nation.

Founded in 2006, Reliance Retail serves more than 3.5 million customers each week through its nearly 10,000 physical stores in more than 6,500 cities and towns. Reliance Retail, like Jio Platforms — which has raised more than $15.7 billion from a dozen high-profile investors since late April, is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s most valued firm. It is controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man.

At stake is one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets that is poised to grow even further as more first-time internet users begin to shop online. India’s e-commerce market is estimated to reach more than 300 million shoppers by 2025, according to estimates by Bain & Company. These shoppers would have bought items worth more than $100 billion from online platforms, the firm projected.

In recent quarters, Flipkart and Amazon have made a number of bets to expand their reach in India. Both of them have rolled out support for Hindi language (Flipkart has added several additional Indian languages as well), and partnered with neighborhood stores.

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