SoftBank Vision Fund Invests Big in Flipkart

Softbank's Vision Fund invests in Flipkart becomes largest shareholder in the firm

SoftBank's $2.5-billion cheque to Flipkart comes a decade after Bezos surrendered China to Alibaba, the most successful investment by Masa, which turned a startup into an all conquering internet dragon. Flipkart raised $1.4 billion from Tencent Holdings Ltd, eBay Inc. and Microsoft Corp.in April.

The fresh round of investment could make SoftBank the largest investor in Flipkart and reduce the influence of Tiger Global, whose representative Kalyan Krishnamurthy is Flipkart's CEO. Both the companies have been locked in an intense battle for leadership in the fast-growing Indian e-commerce market.

For Flipkart, the funding would provide it with more arsenal to compete with the US-based Amazon.

After this round, Flipkart will have in excess of $4 billion of cash on the balance sheet. "As the pioneers in Indian e-commerce, Flipkart is doing that every day", said Son. Softbank has a record of partnering with cutting-edge technology companies and Flipkart is hopeful of a long term fruitful partnership with the investor.

Flipkart has now raised more than $6 billion in cash since starting out in 2007, by far the highest by any Indian start-up and among the highest by any start-up globally. "We want to support innovative companies that are clear winners in India".

"India is a land of vast opportunity", SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement. "We're excited to welcome the Vision Fund as a long-term partner as we continue to build our business with a focus on serving the needs of all Indians, and driving the next phase of technology adoption in India". The fund is now headed by Softbank Group founder and CEO Masayoshi Son and India born Rajeev Misra, designated as CEO of SVF. The talks collapsed at the end of July, but multiple reports suggested SoftBank would participate in Flipkart's next funding round. Softbank has infused $2.5 billion at a time when the prime festive seasons is about to start with Dussera within a month, Diwali after two weeks, and then Christmas and New Year. Snapdeal is a portfolio company of SoftBank.

An acquisition in these verticals will solve the difficulty of building a supply chain for these specialised categories, "To match up, Flipkart will have to invest at least as much as Amazon, and grocery will be important to increase wallet share", said Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at Forrester.

Amazon, on the other hand, has been bullish on its plans for India.

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