Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant controlled by Walmart, is making progress toward an initial public offering as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, according to people familiar with the matter.
The US retail giant has set up an internal IPO team for Flipkart and is leaning toward a traditional debut in the US, said the people, asking not to be named because the details are private. Flipkart had explored going public through a blank-check company to speed up the listing process, but that route is not under consideration now, one of the people said. The startup's valuation could top $35 billion (roughly Rs. 2,60,110 crores) as it goes public.
Walmart shares rose as much as 1.1 percent to $140.92 (roughly Rs. 10,500) in New York trading Tuesday, before retreating toward unchanged, after Bloomberg News reported on the potential IPO.
Saroj Panigrahi, a former JPMorgan Chase attorney hired by Flipkart in December, is driving the IPO process, the people said. JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are in discussions with the company about advising on the deal and are frontrunners to be formally selected, they added.
The IPO discussions are still in flux and could change. It's possible Flipkart would ultimately opt for a location besides the US, one person said.
E-commerce has emerged as a clear winner from the coronavirus pandemic, with surging demand around the world prompting investors to bet on the future of the business. South Korea's Coupang went public in the US in March in an offering where investors quickly pushed its valuation to more than $75 billion (roughly Rs. 5,57,390 crores).
Amazon, which competes with Flipkart in India, saw its shares soar more than 75 percent last year. It's now valued at more than $1.6 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,18,92,910 crores).
“Flipkart's IPO will be a large, exciting public offering and a very significant milestone for India's startup ecosystem,” said Neha Singh, co-founder and chief executive officer of private market intelligence researcher Tracxn Technologies.
In India, a rush of startups are headed toward the public markets this year and next, with at least 10 offerings in the queue. They include India's online insurance aggregator, Policybazaar, and leading food delivery platform Zomato.
Flipkart was founded in 2007 and acquired by Walmart 11 years later in the American retailer's largest acquisition ever. Today, Flipkart includes the fashion retailer Myntra and Flipkart Wholesale, its digital marketplace targeted at small and medium businesses. It has over 300 million registered users, over 150 million products in over 80 categories.
The Walmart purchase was initially met with skepticism, reflected in a tumbling share price. The US giant has struggled to make a profit in e-commerce and investors fretted it was overpaying for a money-losing business far from headquarters.
A successful stock market debut for Flipkart could put an end to any nagging concerns.
”With the IPO, all doubts will be quelled and Walmart will have come full circle,” Singh said.
The law firm Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. will represent Flipkart in India.
© 2021 Bloomberg LP
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