Walmart’s big bet on India’s Flipkart pays off after latest funding round values e-commerce group at $37.6 billion

Flipkart completed a fundraising round valuing the Indian online retailer at $37.6 billion, with main owner Walmart Inc. joining investors including SoftBank Group Corp. in injecting $3.6 billion of fresh capital.

Tencent Holdings Ltd., Blackstone Group Inc.-backed Antara Capital and several sovereign wealth and pension funds also participated, the company said Monday in a statement. Those include Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund ADQ, Singapore’s GIC Pte, Qatar Investment Authority and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The funding round is a boon for Flipkart and U.S. retail giant Walmart, which bought a majority of the Indian company three years ago for $16 billion and has been working toward an initial public offering for the business. It has since carved out the payments arm PhonePe from Flipkart, a unit that could be valued at close to $10 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

“As we serve our consumers, we will focus on accelerating growth for millions of small and medium Indian businesses,” Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy said in the statement.

Japan’s SoftBank, which had previously backed Flipkart and then sold its stake to Walmart at a handsome profit, is back as a shareholder. Investors are plowing billions of dollars into India’s consumer internet and software-as-a-service startups, which are growing rapidly and benefiting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest fundraising round could set up Flipkart for an IPO in the U.S. in 2022. The company is seeking capital as competition rises in India’s online retail market, with rivals Inc., homegrown Reliance Industries Ltd. and the Tata Group boosting spending to sign up more merchants and attract customers.

Flipkart, which has more than 350 million registered users, said it will increase investments in technology, supply chain and infrastructure as it focuses on categories such as fashion, travel and groceries.

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