Travel portal Yatra raises venture debt from InnoVen Capital
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Nasdaq-listed Yatra Online, Inc., which runs travel portal, has raised $15.4 million (Rs 100 crore) in venture debt from InnoVen Capital India Pvt. Ltd.

The money will be used to meet the company’s growth and diversification needs, and to enhance its service offerings, Innoven Capital said in a press statement.

“After having raised $92 million through our Nasdaq listing in December 2016, this debt funding provides us additional capital for our growth needs,” Yatra group CFO Alok Vaish said.

This also marks the largest ever venture debt deal funded by a firm in India.

“Through InnoVen’s cross-border funding capability and our confidence in Yatra’s management team, we were able to meet its financing needs across different geographies,” said Chin Chao, interim CEO, InnoVen Capital India, and CEO, InnoVen Capital South East Asia. In 2013, InnoVen Capital had invested $4 million in Yatra.

In July, Yatra had acquired corporate travel services provider Air Travel Bureau Ltd. According to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the deal value was pegged at $22.5-27.5 million, and is expected to be financed through a combination of debt and cash.

The startup was founded in 2006 by former Ebookers Group (UK) executives Dhruv Shringi, Manish Amin and Sabina Chopra. Shringi is the CEO of the company, Amin is the chief information officer and Chopra the executive vice-president for operations.

In July, media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd had sold its equity-convertible warrants in Yatra Online, Inc. for Rs 39 crore.

The company posted a 33.8% jump in net revenue for the quarter ended June, but swung to an adjusted operating loss. Revenues, after excluding service costs in the April-June quarter, increased to Rs 163.44 crore from Rs 122.16 crore from a year earlier.

The company is backed by a string of venture capital, private equity and strategic investors. Last October, it had sold a small stake to Reliance Industries Ltd as part of a deal linked to an existing partnership, wherein Reliance had pre-installed the Yatra mobile app in its Lyf-branded 4G handsets.

In July 2016, Yatra had signed a reverse-merger agreement with US-based special purpose acquisition company Terrapin 3 Acquisition Corp, which was listed on the Nasdaq, paving the way for a back-door listing of the second Indian online travel services provider in the US.

Venture debt has been an important tool to raise funds for companies as it rarely involves a stake dilution by promoters, besides providing companies with more time to grow. The online travel segment in India is still growing, despite having witnessed a slowdown in venture capital activity.

Innoven Capital

Singapore’s state-owned investment firm Temasek and Singapore-based lender UOB had acquired Nasdaq-listed diversified financial services company SVB Financial Group’s specialty finance business focussed on venture debt in early 2015. SVB India Finance was then renamed as Innoven Capital Group.

InnoVen has provided over $225 million in capital to more than 100 tech startups across India. Its portfolio includes Oyo Rooms, Swiggy, Byju’s, Nestaway, Pepperfry, Prizm Payments,, Shopclues, Myntra, Freecharge, Manthan Software, Firstcry, Practo and Capillary Technologies.

The venture debt firm usually writes cheques at the post-Series A stage, but it mentors early-stage startups as well.

Apart from InnoVen Capital, Delhi’s Trifecta Capital Advisors, Bengaluru-based Capital Float, IFMR Capital of Chennai and Ahmedabad-based Lendingkart are leading players offering debt funding to early-stage companies in India.

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