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Japan’s SoftBank Group announced today that it would invest US$627 million in Indian online retailer Snapdeal. With this latest funding, Softbank will become the leading investor in Snapdeal.
Existing investors have also participated in this round with a significant undisclosed investment.
Nikesh Arora, Vice Chairman of SoftBank Corp and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc (SIMI) will be joining the board of Snapdeal as part of this strategic investment.
This is the largest investment made by a single investor in an e-commerce company in India.
Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Corp said, “Since SoftBank’s foundation, our mission has been to contribute to people’s lives through the ‘Information Revolution’. We believe India is at a turning point in its development and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade. As part of this belief, we intend to deploy significant capital in India over the next few years to support development of the market.”
Through this, SoftBank Group aims to further strengthen its presence in India and leverage synergies with its network of Internet companies around the world.
Arora said, “India has the third-largest internet user base in the world, but a relatively small online market currently. This situation means India has, with better, faster and cheaper Internet access, a big growth potential. With today’s announcement, SoftBank is contributing to the development of the infrastructure for the digital future of India. We want to support the leaders and entrepreneurs of the digital future and Kunal and Rohit (Snapdeal C0-founders) are two such great leaders.”
Snapdeal has raised closed to US$1 billion this calendar year. In early 2014, the company raised US$133.77-million as a result of a round led by eBay and US$100-million as result of a financial round which saw participation from institutional investors — Temasek, Myriad, Tybourne, Blackrock and Premji Invest. Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons — a renowned name in the Indian as well as global business circles, also made a personal investment into the company.
Kunal Bahl, Co-founder and CEO, Snapdeal said, “Our entire team at Snapdeal is thrilled and honoured to have SoftBank as a strategic partner. With the support of Son-san and Nikesh, we are confident we will further strengthen our promise to consumers and create life changing experiences for one million small businesses in India.”
Morrison & Foerster LLP acted as legal advisor to SoftBank, with Kochhar & Co. advising SoftBank on India law matters.
Expansion plans for Snapdeal
The company will be making strategic investments in ramping up its efforts in technology and supply chain management. To strengthen its technology efforts, the company will open innovation centres across the country. After Delhi, it has opened its second innovation centre in Bangalore and plans to open innovation centres in cities like Hyderabad and Pune.
The company will also double its technology team size to 1,000 people by the end of the current financial year. To strengthen its supply chain efforts, the company also looks to expand its fulfillment centres to 30 cities.
With the vision to enable SMBs in India to do business online, Snapdeal aims to expand its merchant base to one million in the next three years. The setting up of fulfillment centres is in line with the same as it will also enable SMBs that do not have the necessary resources to handle deliveries at their end.
Further, Snapdeal.com will look to make three-four strategic acquisitions in the coming few months specifically in the area of mobile technology. With mobile commerce fast gaining pace in the country, Snapdeal, within the next six months, will also set up an incubation centre to hone and harness startup businesses in the mobile technology space.
This article by Twishy originally appeared on e27, a Burn Media publishing partner.