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Ola may buy Kalaari, India Quotient-backed Holachef 3 months after it shut shop

Foodpanda India, an online take-away food delivery firm bought by homegrown cab-hailing major Ola last year, is in talks to acquire shuttered web startup Holachef, which delivered food cooked by its chefs in Mumbai, three persons in the know told VCCircle.

“Talks for acquisition are on and the processes for a potential buyout are being ironed out. However, the deal is yet to be formally declared on paper,” one person said.

E-mail queries to Ola did not get any response till the time of publishing this report. Likewise for e-mail queries, phone calls and text messages to Saurabh Saxena, co-founder and chief executive of Holachef, backed by Kalaari Capital and India Quotient.

Mint, which first reported the development, citing unnamed persons, said that Holachef had shut operations three months ago. The current talks are for a distress sale under which Foodpanda will acquire Holachef’s staff, brand name and kitchen equipment, the report added.

A person from the Indian investor ecosystem confirmed that Holachef had shut down operations. He said that the company is in discussions with multiple potential buyers and that Foodpanda India was just one among them. He did not disclose the identity of the other bidders for Holachef.

“Since there are multiple potential buyers in the fray, it is taking a longer time to arrive at a deal. Some of the potential acquirers are in advanced discussions while others are lagging behind them,” he added.

News of the talks comes five and a half months after TechCircle reported in February that Holachef had raised Rs 2 crore ($311,200) from Ashok Kumar Gajera, director at Mumbai-based diamond manufacturer and distributor Laxmi Diamond Pvt. Ltd. The funding, according to TechCircle estimates, had valued the four-year-old startup at Rs 177 crore ($27.4 million).

Since April 2016, the company has raised about $5.56 million, which includes a Rs 19.5 crore ($3 million) round raised from SIDBI Venture Capital Ltd and existing investor Kalaari Capital in April 2017. In July 2016, Kalaari Capital and India Quotient infused Rs 13 crore ($1.95 million) into the firm. Before April 2016, the firm had raised funds twice in 2015, totalling $3.38 million, according to data available with VCCEdge, the research platform of News Corp VCCircle.

Holachef, operated by Holachef Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, was launched by Saxena and Anil Gelra in 2014. It delivered ready-to-eat home-cooked food to consumers. Its in-house chefs would prepare Indian and global cuisines, besides desserts, beverages, munchies, and soups and salads. Holachef was operational only in Mumbai and catered to over 100 pin codes in the city.

The talks for Holachef come a little over seven months after Ola announced its foray into the food segment with the acquisition of Foodpanda’s India operations in December last year. The buyout was made from its Germany-based parent Delivery Hero in an all-stock deal.

The latest move also indicates Ola’s intent to go aggressive at a time when the food-tech sector is seeing a revival of sorts, with companies like Swiggy and Zomato getting big cheques. Ola’s competitor in the cab-hailing space, Uber, also jumped into the food-delivery business with the launch of UberEats in May last year.

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