Due diligence delaying Flipkart’s Snapdeal buy

E­TAIL DETAIL Acquisition process that began in May likely to conclude in July

BENGALURU: A complex due diligence process is delaying Flipkart’s proposed buyout of beleaguered online retailer Snapdeal, two people familiar with the matter said.

Snapdeal’s sale to Flipkart is on track despite the delay with the due diligence process, the people said. The deal is expected to conclude sometime in July, they added.

The due diligence process had started last month.

Flipkart is expected to pay slightly less than its preliminary offer of $1 billion to buy out Snapdeal, with the final deal value expected to be in the range of $700900 million, said the two people cited above, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity as the discussions are confidential.

Over the past few weeks, smaller shareholders in Snapdeal, including billionaire Azim Premji’s investment firm PremjiInvest, had written to the firm’s board, expressing unhappiness over the current terms of its sale, which is being engineered by Snapdeal’s largest investor, SoftBank Group Corp.

“Of course, the smaller shareholders are not happy since they want a larger exit payout—but they have no power to hold up the deal. The sale will go through irrespective of whether the smaller investors are on board or not,” said one of the two people cited earlier.

The process of going through the details of Snapdeal’s books and its various subsidiaries has proved to be more complex than anticipated, said both the people. The prolonged due diligence has also held up a separate transaction to sell Snapdeal’s payments business FreeCharge. In May, Paytm had offered to buy FreeCharge for $40-50 million as part of a fire sale.

Some experts tracking the sale discussions have questioned the viability of this deal for Flipkart, which will have the additional burden and distraction of integrating Snapdeal, months after it bought out eBay’s India business amid a bruising tussle with deeppocketed arch-rival Amazon India.

Flipkart and Snapdeal did not respond to requests for comment.

On May 3, Mint reported that the board of Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd, which runs Snapdeal, had moved a step closer to agreeing to a distress sale to Flipkart even as a conflict between SoftBank and three key shareholders remained unresolved.

On May 12, Mint reported that Flipkart had made an informal offer to buy Snapdeal for $1 billion in an all-stock deal.

Nexus Venture Partners and Kalaari Capital have been locked in a tussle with SoftBank over the company’s valuation in a potential sale or funding round over the past few months.

Snapdeal is the largest investment for Kalaari and Nexus, and a bad deal could be damaging for the two home-grown venture capital firms.

Since the preliminary informal offer, SoftBank and other key shareholders including Nexus and Kalaari have come closer to resolving their differences on the terms of the sale, said the two people cited earlier.

Mint had reported in May that SoftBank had proposed to hand out $60 million to Nexus and about $30 million to Kalaari. Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal have been offered $15 million each, with an additional $30 million for the entire management team and employees.

Investment bank Credit Suisse, which helped Snapdeal raise funds in 2014, is representing Snapdeal in the proposed deal with Flipkart.

Snapdeal, which has raised nearly $2 billion in cash, hit a peak valuation of $6.5 billion in February 2016 when it received $50 million from investors.

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