Walmart's two-year romance with Flipkart and the big winners from the record e-com deal

Last Updated: Fri, May 11, 2018 11:51 hrs
Walmart Flipkart (PTI image)

Walmart, which has sealed a world-record $16-billion e-com deal to buy a 77% stake in Flipkart, first approached the Indian e-commerce giant in 2016.

But Walmart's keenness in buying American e-com site, which it went on to acquire for $3.3 billion, led to the exploratory talks fizzling out.

The New York Times reported that Walmart only came back to the table in November 2017, when it expressed its keenness on buying a minority stake in the company founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal.

But as talks progressed, both Walmart and Flipkart felt that instead of finding investors through various rounds of funding, it might make better sense to seal a one-time sale of the majority stake.

Amazon's arrival into the deal deliberations a month later in December 2017 did not make much of an impact as the Flipkart founders and its investors felt the Competition Commission of India would block any possible deal between the two competitors.

The Times reported that when the deal was finally inked after months of discussions, there were a few investors like Lee Fixel's Tiger Global Management (Fixel's troubleshooter Kalyan Krishnamurthy is the CEO of Flipkart) and China's internet giant Tencent who wanted to stay on.

Masayoshi Son's Softbank, which had invested $2.5 billion in Flipkart in August, meanwhile, had decided to cash out.

Son, it was, who first accidentally confirmed the deal on Wednesday to a roomful of reporters and investors, many hours before the official announcement.

"Maybe I should have not mentioned that," Son was later quoted as saying, before adding, "Well, I can't take it out", in a transcript compiled by the Bloomberg news agency.

Here are the big winners in the mega deal according to The New York Times:

* Accel, one of the first investors in Flipkart, has earned a sevenfold return, including a 71-times return with its Accel India Fund.

Another investor, Ashish Gupta, who handed over Rs 10 lakh to the Bansals in 2009 in the first round of funding, stands to pocket $ 20 million from the deal.

* Tiger Global Management has made a fourfold return. It will, however, retain a 5% stake in Flipkart.

* South African media giant Naspers made a 3.6 times return. Cashed out $ 2.2 billion after investing $ 616 million

* SoftBank can make a 60% return, netting $ 4 billion on a $2.5 investment made in August 2017, as we mentioned earlier. But now there are reports that Masayoshi Son is yet to decide on whether to sell because he wants to be sure of tax implications of such a sale and also because some say he still sees significant potential in Flipkart.

Investors like Microsoft and Tencent plan to stay on board, and might or might not benefit from the IPO that walmart says it reportedly plans three years or so down the line.

As for the Flipkart founders, both Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal are expected to earn $ 1 billion each, but will not quite be members of the billion-dollar club as they will have to pay taxes on their earnings from the deal too. Sachin Bansal will leave the company he co-founded, a fact he has confirmed through a Facebook post on Thursday, while Binny Bansal will stay on the Flipkart board.

Livemint, meanwhile, reported that $500 million has been set aside to buy back shares from current and ex-Flipkart employees, making it the biggest ESOP (employee stock options) buyback in the Indian startup arena. At least a few Flipkart employees are expected to turn crorepatis as a result.

Analysts see this windfall being invested in luxury cars and apartments, the paper reported.

The reactions from Twitter to the deal:

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