India’s sovereign wealth fund gets CCI nod to invest in SoftBank-backed FirstCry


India’s sovereign wealth fund has received the competition commission of India’s (CCI) approval for its proposed investment in SoftBank-backed Brainbees Solutions Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates online-first baby products retailer FirstCry. 

NIIF has invested around $240 million - $250 million in FirstCry through primary and secondary shares, a person with knowledge of the deal said.  

This is NIIF's first investment in a new-age company. SoftBank has offloaded a part of its stake in this transaction. 

An Economic Times report said that NewQuest Capital Parners and Chiratae Ventures have also sold shares in the deal. 

A CCI notification said that the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund-II will buy shares of Brainbees Solutions Pvt Ltd under Section 5(a) of the Competition Act, 2002. 

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Email sent to Brainbees Solutions and NIIF did not elicit an immediate response. 

Last year, FirstCry raised around $315 million from TPG, ChrysCapital and Premji Invest  at around $1.9-$2.1 billion valuation.

NIIF has about seven companies in its portfolio, and manages these investments through four funds--NIIF, NIIF II, NIIF Fund of Funds-I and NIIF Strategic. NIIF has total assets under management of $4.3 billion, according to  VCCEdge, the data and intelligence platform of VCCircle.

Brainbees Solutions joined the coveted unicorn club in February 2020, after it raised $300 million from Japan’s SoftBank Group, through its Vision Fund. SoftBank holds a 45.8% stake in Brainbees Solutions, according to VCCEdge.

Brainbees Solutions was founded in 2010 by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha. The company offers kid products across categories that include diapers, feeding and nursing, skin and health care, toys, clothes, footwear, and fashion accessories.  

In 2015, Mahindra Group, which ran the country's top offline baby products chain Mom & Me, bought FirstCry's key rival BabyOye. A year later, Mahindra merged BabyOye with FirstCry to create the top player in the vertical. FirstCry also ventured into the pre-primary education segment in 2019 by acquiring Oi Playschool for an undisclosed sum.

Brainbees Solutions also launched a Thrasio-styled venture named GlobalBees last year. Soon in December, Globalbees  joined the unicorn club with $111.5 million funding led by Premji Invest.

Note: The copy has been updated to provide NIIF's investment details.

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