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Grapevine: Tiger, others may invest in Freshworks; Essel may sell 6 roads to NIIF
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Freshworks Inc., one of India’s largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, is looking to raise a fresh round of funding at a valuation of up to $3 billion (Rs 21,419 crore at current exchange rate), two persons in the know told The Times of India.

The funding will come from existing investors like Sequoia Capital India and Tiger Global Management, besides new investors including mutual funds, the persons added, without ascertaining the size of the round.

Freshworks, a cloud-based business software firm, had raised $100 million (around Rs 685 crore then) in a Series G round of funding, VCCircle reported in July 2018.

The Chennai-based company, formerly known as Freshdesk, had then said that global venture capital (VC) firms Accel and Sequoia Capital had led the investment with participation from CapitalG, the VC arm of tech giant Google’s parent firm Alphabet. Accel, Sequoia and CapitalG are all existing investors in Freshworks.

In the process, Freshworks had said it had entered the unicorn club of startups that are valued at $1 billion or more. The firm had also said that the round had taken its overall external funding to $250 million. Founded in October 2010, Freshworks has its head office in San Bruno, California. The company’s clients include Honda, Bridgestone, Hugo Boss, University of Pennsylvania, Toshiba and Cisco.

Separately, Essel Infraprojects is in advanced talks to sell six road projects to India's sovereign wealth fund manager National Investment & Infrastructure Fund Ltd (NIIF), two people in the know told BusinessLine, as Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group tries to reduce its massive debt of about Rs 7,000 crore ($980 million at current exchange rate).

For the road projects, the Essel Group is expecting to rake in over Rs 4,000 crore ($560 million at current exchange rate), the people said, adding that the deal value would include the projects’ debt.

The move, which comes after Essel Infraprojects sold three of its road projects to Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) for about Rs 3,500 crore, is part of efforts to sell Essel Group’s non-media assets while trying not to lose control over crown jewel Zee Entertainment. The Essel group’s promoters have 90% of their Zee Entertainment shares pledged with creditors.

The group recently sold 11% of its pledged shares in Zee Entertainment to raise Rs 4,224 crore, besides offloading its solar assets for Rs 1,300 crore. From both the deals, it has received only part payment. The deal with NIIF, if it goes through, will reduce the promoter debt in the group to Rs 3,000 crore, besides giving the promoters more time to rope in a strategic investor and sell more stake in Zee Entertainment.

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