VCC Startups Weekly Wrap: Snapdeal sells Vulcan; CarTrade to buy Shriram Automall
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Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd, which runs online marketplace Snapdeal, has sold its logistics division Vulcan Express to Kishore Biyani-run Future Group's supply chain solutions subsidiary for $5.5 million (Rs 35 crore) as the domestic e-commerce firm tries to streamline operations in a cash-strapped scenario. The company also reported a 26% drop in consolidated revenue for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 as it continued to struggle in the wake of mounting competition. The firm hasn’t yet filed its profit and loss statement or full financials for FY2016-17.

In other major developments, e-commerce major Flipkart’s attempt to build a brand for large appliances with its newly created private label MarQ has faced a setback after a Delhi court restrained the firm from using the brand name until February 5. Also, Mumbai-headquartered non-banking financial company NeoGrowth Credit Pvt. Ltd, which provides flexible loans to merchants and offers automated repayment options, has secured Rs 300 crore ($47 million) in equity funding from investors led by LeapFrog Investments.

Here is a look at the major developments during the week:

Snapdeal sells Vulcan Express to Future Group

Domestic e-commerce firm Snapdeal, which is run by Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd, has entered into an agreement with Future Group's supply chain solutions subsidiary to sell its logistics arm Vulcan Express Pvt. Ltd in an all-cash deal valued at $5.5 million (Rs 35 crore).

The company, which has been trying to streamline its operations, has reported that its consolidated revenue has fallen to Rs 904 crore in 2016-17 which is down from consolidated revenue from operations of Rs 1,214.3 crore in 2015-16. Its total consolidated revenue, including other income, was Rs 1,506.8 crore in 2015-16.

The Economic Times previously reported that Future Group was eyeing Snapdeal’s logistics arm. Earlier, the company had sold off its mobile wallet business, FreeCharge, for $60 million -- a lesser price compared to what it paid during the wallet's acquisition.

While Snapdeal will benefit from the sale by streamlining its operations, Future Group said that it is planning to use Vulcan as a part of its Retail 3.0 strategy.

CarTrade to acquire Shriram Automall for $24.5 mn

MXC Solutions India Pvt. Ltd, the operator of and websites, has agreed to buy Shriram Group’s unit that sells used trucks, buses and other vehicles for Rs 156.4 crore ($24.5 million). Shriram Transport Finance Company Ltd said in a stock-exchange filing it will sell 16.6 million shares of wholly owned unit Shriram Automall India Ltd to MXC Solutions at Rs 94.03 apiece. The transaction is likely to be completed on or before 23 April, it said.

Court restrains Flipkart from using MarQ brand name

A Delhi court ordered domestic e-commerce major Flipkart to stop using its brand name MarQ -- a newly created private label for large appliances -- until February 5. The interim ruling was issued on a complaint filed by appliances manufacturer Marc Enterprises which alleged that Flipkart’s use of MarQ as a brand name is in violation of its trademark registered in 1984 as MarQ has striking similarities to its own name, The Economic Times reported.

“It seems that prima facie there is phonetic similarity between the trademark Marc of the plaintiff and trademark MarQ of the defendant,” the publication quoted Chandra Shekhar, additional district judge at Patiala House Courts in New Delhi, as saying. The judge ruled that the “balance of convenience and irreparable loss” are in favour of the plaintiff and against Flipkart. As a result, the court disallowed Flipkart from using the MarQ brand for its products in any form and from any platform until the next hearing scheduled on February 5.

Digital lending platform NeoGrowth raises $47 mn

Mumbai-headquartered non-banking financial company (NBFC) NeoGrowth Credit Pvt. Ltd, which provides flexible loans to merchants and offers automated repayment options, has secured Rs 300 crore ($47 million) in equity funding from investors led by LeapFrog Investments.

Existing investors Aspada Investment Company and Quona Capital also contributed to the fundraising effort through Accion Frontier Inclusion Fund, which focuses on inclusive financial technology. Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to NeoGrowth for this transaction. VCCircle had first reported in October last year that NeoGrowth was working with Avendus Capital to raise Rs 150 crore ($23 million).

Uber CEO to visit India next month

Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is expected to visit India in February as part of his first visit to Asia to bolster the company's image. Khosrowshahi will visit Japan and India to meet with government officials, regulators, business partners and employees, Reuters reported. “Asia is an important region for Uber, and a focus for our investment in 2018 and beyond,” the spokesman said, adding that Khosrowshahi plans to discuss “ways Uber can better serve riders, drivers and cities”. According to the report, the CEO's visit will help efforts by Uber’s Asia head, Brooks Entwistle, to reassure regulators after a string of controversies damaged the firm’s reputation and led to the exit of co-founder Travis Kalanick in 2017.

Team Indus ends pursuit of Google Lunar XPrize

Aerospace startup Team Indus has stopped its pursuit of $20 million Google Lunar XPrize, the global competition to get a robotic rover to travel 500 metres on moon and transmit pictures from there. Team Indus, one of the five finalists of the competition, had won $1 million three years ago. The company said in a statement that it terminated its launch contract with Antrix Corporation, ISRO’s commercial arm. Team Indus had informed Lunar XPrize its inability to meet the 31 March 2018 deadline and the latter decided not to extend the deadline any further. In a joint statement on Wednesday, Antrix and Team Indus said they are mutually terminating the launch service agreement signed in 2016.

Meanwhile, Mumbai-based Pocket Aces Pictures Pvt. Ltd, which runs digital entertainment startup Pocket Aces, has acquired Loco, a live trivia game show app, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help Pocket Aces ramp up user growth and community engagement, the company said in a statement. As part of the transaction, Loco will get financing, marketing and content support from Pocket Aces.

Other deals included Noida-based crowd-sourced platform RailYatri acqui-hiring food-delivery technology startup YatraChef and Mumbai-based mobile games developer Nazara Technologies Ltd acquiring a majority 55% stake in Gurgaon-based e-sports platform NODWIN Gaming.

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