IIFL PE bets on logistics startup floated by ex-Blue Dart honcho
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Homegrown private equity firm IIFL PE Fund, managed by financial services firm IIFL AMC, has struck its second bet in the logistics segment in less than a week’s time.  

The mid-market PE firm has led a Rs 100 crore ($13.7 million) seed round of funding in Mumbai-headquartered logistics startup Smart Express, as per a press statement.  

The funds will be utilised by the startup for team building and creating pick-up and delivery (PUD) and transit hub infrastructure to service customers across India.  

The startup plans to commence operations during the festive season this year in around 30 cities. In the next three years, Smart Express aspires to build over 300 centres across India, which will include its own PUD service centres, transit hubs and alliance partners.    

IIFL PE was joined by Smiti Holding & Trading Co., the family office of Asian Paints co-promoter Jalaj Dani, in this transaction. Investment is expected to happen in two tranches over the next two years linked to predefined business milestones to expand across cities and reach a certain scale. 

“India’s logistics space is vibrant and dynamic. In the current pandemic scenario, the importance of the sector has grown manifold. We are happy to embark on this exciting journey with the vastly experienced Smart Express team,” said Vikrant Sibal, senior executive vice-president at IIFL AMC.  

IIFL last week was also reported to have come together with Amicus Capital and Ananta Capital to invest $12 million (about Rs 85 crore) in Series B funding for logistics and warehousing solutions provider Pickrr Technologies.  

Smart Express was launched in 2018 by Yogesh Dhingra, who has spent several years with Blue Dart. He is said to have played a major role in the acquisition of Blue Dart by DHL.  

The company will primarily focus on institutional clients through its range of products like, AirLite Express, AirSecure Express, AirPackage Express Premium, AirPackage Express Economy, Ground Package Express Saver, E-Tail Express Forward and E-Tail Express Reverse, among others.  

Several players in the logistics technology space have attracted bigger cheques from institutional investors. In July, BlackBuck raised $67 million (Rs 498 crore) as part of its Series E funding round led by Tribe Capital, IFC Emerging Asia Fund and VEF and entered the unicorns club.

Early the same month, Delhivery said it would get $100 million in equity investments from FedEx Express, a subsidiary of US-based logistics major FedEx Corp.  

In December last year, Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, agreed to acquire a significant equity stake in Ecom Express for $250 million. In March this year, the UK's development finance institution CDC made a $20 million (Rs 146 crore) additional investment.  

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