SoftBank fund pumps record $2.5bn into India's Flipkart

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The US-based firm pumped in Rs 1,680 crore in June into its online marketplace business in India, while Rs 341 crore was invested in the preceding month in the wholesale business.

After the new investment, Flipkart will have more than United States dollars 4 billion cash reserve which may allow the e-commerce giant to expand its consumer base by offering mega discounts through its periodic sales.

The fresh investment is an extension of the funding round that saw Flipkart raising $1.4 billion from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft in April at a valuation of $11.4 billion, about 23% less than its peak valuation of $15 billion. However, Amazon has been a mighty challenger to the homegrown market leader Flipkart in India.

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The last week in their statement Soft Bank has said that they respect the decision of Snapdeal pursue an independent strategy and not merge with its arch rival Flipkart.

Flipkart said the SoftBank investment, which is the biggest-ever private investment in an Indian technology company, will make the Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in the online retailer. "The challenge is to match Amazon's product offering, which it tweaks every now and then to make it stickier for consumers".

"India is a land of vast opportunity", said Masayoshi Son, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of SoftBank Group.

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The investment caps a months-long saga involving SoftBank trying to acquire an interest in Flipkart, originally by trying to orchestrate a merger with Snapdeal.

SoftBank was supposed to invest $1.52 billion in the proposed merged Snapdeal-Flipkart entity, but after the talks fell through, SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son said that he respects the decision of the founders and chose to focus the fund's effort in Flipkart. Till date, Flipkart has raised about $4.6 Bn funding in 14 rounds, excluding the current round. But its efforts were thwarted after the founders of Snapdeal -Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal - resolved to stay independent. Amazon's share price has buoyed Bezos to commit big bucks to win India at all costs - a $5-billion war chest till date. On Thursday, SoftBank announced that it has invested close to $2.5 billion in the company. Current Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy is Tiger Global's representative in the e-commerce major, but his position will come into jeopardy. The deal was reportedly backed by SoftBank, which is the largest investor in Snapdeal.

It has already invested in ride-haling service Ola, a local challenger to Uber, the largest Internet startup in the world.

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