The Softbank Group is holding talks to invest directly in India’s largest e-tailer Flipkart after the talks of planned merger with Snapdeal had failed. “We respect the decision of the Snapdeal founders and we are now engaged with Flipkart,” SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said on Monday, after declaring the company’s first quarter results. Son, however, did not specify the details of the discussions with Flipkart. SoftBank holds close to 35 per cent stake in Snapdeal. Over the past few months, it had mediated the sale of the company to the larger rival. However, last week, the talks fell apart after Snapdeal announced that it had decided to pursue an independent path and was terminating all strategic discussions. SoftBank has already launched a $100 billion Vision Fund and the funding into Flipkart is likely to be part of it. Reports indicate that Softbank may invest upto $2 billion in Flipkart.
Son has placed large bets on the Indian market. In the e-commerce segment, he is betting on Flipkart as a way to take on global giant Amazon. The Softbank chairman was one of the early investors in Alibaba too. The move will not only give SoftBank sizable shareholding in Flipkart, which in April raised $1.4 billion in funding at a valuation of $11.6 billion, it will also reduce Tiger’s prominence on the Indian company’s board. Currently, the US hedge fund calls the shots on running Flipkart, with Lee Fixel’s own close aide Kalyan Krishnamurthy in the position of CEO.
(With PTI inputs)