Flipkart board wants company to go public

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on January 12, 2018



Some investors keen on full sell-off; more top-level exits likely

Flipkart may see more churn with some of the top executives looking to exit the country’s largest e-commerce player even as it readies itself for an IPO or a full sell-off.

Sources in the company told BusinessLine that the board has decided to make the company IPO-ready in 18-24 months. Some investors are apparently keen for a full sell-off depending on how the valuation and the market conditions pan out at that time.

“Whenever investors have come in, a sale has happened. It will be no different this time as well. As long as the founders are running the operations because of their long-term vision, there is always a chance for the company to grow and sustain itself,” said an analyst with a market intelligence company which works with Flipkart.

Last year, Tiger Global, which has a stake in Flipkart as well as its competitor Amazon, brought in Kalyan Krishnamurthy to focus fully on the operations of the company.

Higher valuation

Krishnamurthy was elevated as the CEO on Monday to give him a free hand in running the day-to-day operations of the company. He was brought in to shore up the valuation numbers to $11-12 billion.

“It is a typical Silicon Valley game played out by investors who actually lead you to a situation Flipkart finds itself in,” said a source. As of November last year, Flipkart has been valued at $5.54 billion compared with $15.2 billion when it raised its last round of funding in July 2015.

Sources also said that top executives at the level of senior vice-presidents, who play key roles in different segments, are in the process of putting in their papers, though it could not be confirmed at the time of going to press.

Co-founder Binny Bansal has been given the responsibility of taking the company public. He has been freed from the duty of running the operations of the company and will focus on building new businesses, M&As, leadership and CEO compensation.

Another source said that though employees would want Flipkart to go public, the investors who now run the company would rather want it to be sold to the highest bidder.

Past suitors

In the past, there have been quite a few players who were keen on taking over the company. It is learnt that Amazon was willing to offer up to $8 billion to buy Flipkart while the investors and the founders wanted about $12 billion. It is also learnt that Walmart might be keen on reviving its plans to buy into Flipkart as it is fast losing ground to Amazon in the US, its home base.

“We will be very surprised if Walmart does not retrace its steps and start looking again at Flipkart seriously,” sources in the company said. Flipkart continues to be the largest e-commerce player in the country and a company of the size of $7-8 billion cannot be ignored.

It does not make sense to build a similar company from scratch as it sucks a lot of management bandwidth, the analyst with the market intelligence company pointed out.

Published on January 10, 2017

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