Crunched for cash, Flipkart likely to raise debt
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Faced with the steady march of US-based rival Amazon on its home turf, e-commerce marketplace Flipkart is now turning to debt financing, as the equity infusion it is asking for at $15 billion valuation looks like a long shot post the successive markdowns by existing investors.

The company is in a fairly advanced stage of talks to raise $300 million (around Rs 2000 crore) loan from Indian banks, said a person with direct knowledge of the development. The company is likely to borrow this amount at a rather high interest rate of around 12% as it does not have many assets to pledge, the person said, requesting anonymity.

Flipkart did not respond to email queries sent by VCCircle in this regard.

Last year, Flipkart had pledged assets for credit facilities worth Rs 1,400 crore, Business Standard reported in December 2015. Besides, Flipkart also explored issuing rupee bonds worth Rs 3,000 crore a year ago.

Flipkart’s fresh move to raise debt comes amid a steep decline in its valuation from $15.2 billion at the time of its last fundraising in mid-2015 to $9.4 billion, post the markdown by investor Morgan Stanley of its holding in the company in May. The successive markdowns further queered the pitch for the company that, reportedly, held talks with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for a possible fund infusion. The talks are reported to have failed because of differences over the valuation.

“From 2014, every six-seven months Flipkart has been raising money. There is obviously a delay in fundraising that makes them look for other options,” said the person cited above. The company, however, has been maintaining it is in no hurry to raise fresh funds. “We are not in the market much. And the market isn’t very good either for raising funds,” CEO Binny Bansal told Mint last month.

Founded in 2008, Flipkart has so far raised around $3.2 billion in funds. The company burns a significant amount of capital to build its customer base and seller ecosystem. Its marketplace entity alone recorded a loss of Rs 1,096 crore in 2014-15 while overall loss is estimated to be around Rs 2,000 crore, according to an analysis by VCCircle based on VCCEdge data.

Meanwhile, its rival Amazon which has risen fast in the Indian market has committed $3 billion in addition to the $2 billion investment it announced in 2014.

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