Walmart Inc-owned Indian online retailer Flipkart on Monday ushered back tech investor SoftBank Group Corp as an investor in a $3.6 billion funding round, after which it will be valued at $37.6 billion.
The latest fundraise will take the valuation of the e-commerce firm to more than double the amount for which U.S. retail giant Walmart bought a 77% stake in 2018.
Since the deal, Flipkart has expanded to many small towns and cities, included more items such as furniture and grocery to its online store and increased its warehouses in its race with Amazon.com’s India unit.
The Bengaluru-based company is now exploring going public for a valuation of up to $50 billion.
Its fresh funding round was led by investors GIC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Walmart and marks the return of SoftBank, which had sold its roughly 20% stake to Walmart during the 2018 deal.
“SoftBank’s re-investment in Flipkart is driven by our experience with and conviction in the company’s management team to continue addressing the needs of the Indian consumer in the decades to come,” Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said.
Like its rival Amazon, Flipkart began by selling books, but diversified rapidly into sell selling smartphones, clothing and other items.
“We will focus on accelerating growth for millions of small and medium Indian businesses, including kiranas,” Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart chief executive, said in a statement.
India’s rapid smartphone adoption and cheap mobile data have propelled growth for digital startups that sell everything from groceries and cosmetics to smartphones and holidays.
Several prominent Indian startups too have spelt out plans to go public to cash in on liquidity by foreign funds. Some closely watched include food delivery startup Zomato, payments services PayTM, beauty brand Nykaa and ride-hailing service Ola.
Twenty-two companies have debuted this year as of July 9. There were $3.6 billion worth of IPOs in India in the first half of 2021, up from $1.1 billion at the same time last year, according to Refinitiv.
The level so far this year is the highest since 2008.