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Snapdeal in talks to acquire ShopClues; Canadian funds, Piramal eye GIP road portfolio
Photo Credit: VCCircle

Online retailer Snapdeal is in talks to acquire rival ShopClues, two media reports said.

Citing a source familiar with the negotiations, financial news website Moneycontrol reported that Snapdeal had initiated initial talks with ShopClues to evaluate a “potential strategic alliance".

However, the report said that Shopclues had denied speaking to any company about any merger or acquisition.

Separately, news website Entrackr reported that ShopClues was exploring a buyout by Snapdeal to avoid a collapse of its operations. The report also said that Shopclues had been losing momentum with its orders dropping and its investors had refused to provide any lifeline to the company.

ShopClues had last raised funding in 2018 when a few existing investors injected Rs 110 crore (about $16 million) into the company. The company had last raised a sizeable amount in early 2016 in a round led by Singapore sovereign fund GIC and Tiger Global at a valuation of $1.1 billion.

Snapdeal had previously raised funding from the likes of SoftBank, Foxconn and Alibaba Group.

In a separate development, Canadian pension funds CPPIB and CDPQ, Italy's Atlantia and billionaire Ajay Piramal-led Piramal Group are in the final round of bidding for the Indian roads portfolio of US-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a media report said.

Citing two people aware of the development, Mint reported that GIP's Highway Concessions One (HC1) has a portfolio of seven road assets and that it has been valued at $600 million.

The road projects that are on the block are spread in seven states including Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

GIP got the assets when it acquired the infrastructure asset management business of Indian private equity firm IDFC Alternatives last year.

Meanwhile, The Economic Times reported that state-run GAIL (India) Ltd is the front-runner to buy the energy assets of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS).

Japanese investor Orix Corp, which owns a 49% stake in the energy assets, has the right of first refusal to buy the remaining stake, the report said. 

IL&FS could raise as much as Rs 6,000 crore by selling the energy assets.

The non-bank lender and infrastructure developer has been looking to sell stakes in several subsidiaries and assets after defaulting on its debt last year that prompted the government to overhaul its board. The company has total debt of more than Rs 91,000 crore. 

In another development, cosmetics company L’Oréal is looking for acquisitions in India's skin and make-up market to tap into rising demand for beauty products, a top executive told Mint.

Amit Jain, managing director of the French company’s India business, said skin and make-up are two areas that are still nascent in India with a lot of opportunities.

L’Oréal's India business is still small compared to that of consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever Ltd. L’Oréal’s Maybelline range of products competes with the likes of Hindustan Unilever-owned Lakme and new brands such as Nykaa.

Jain said L’Oréal had made its first acquisition in India, in 2013 with the purchase of Mumbai-based skin-care brand Cheryl’s Cosmeceuticals.

Separately, healthcare app mfine is in talks with private equity firm SBI Ven Capital to lead a $17 million round of funding, The Economic Times reported, citing multiple people aware of the deal.

Mfine was founded in 2017 by former Myntra top executive Prasad Kompalli and Ashutosh Lawania. It is an artificial intelligence-powered healthcare platform that connects patients with doctors from branded hospital chains on instant chat or video consultation.

The Bengaluru-based company primarily earns money through commissions from customer consultation, lead-generation fees from hospitals and corporate tie-ups.

The company last raised $4.2 million in its Series A round in May 2018. It has raised more than $6 million in funding till date. 

Meanwhile, home services marketplace UrbanClap Technologies Pvt. Ltd has mopped up Rs 1.6 crore ($230,120) from Flipkart Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, TechCircle reported, citing filings with the Registrar of Companies.

Delhi-headquartered UrbanClap competes with online local business search engine JustDial, home services firm HouseJoy and online classifieds firm Quikr. The company counts Hong Kong-based Steadview Capital, Mauritius-based ABG Capital and Vy Capital among its investors.

For Krishnamurthy, this is not his first investment in a startup. Last month, he invested in business-to-business marketplace Moglix and wellness platform Curefit.

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