Accel Partners has sold a fractional stake in Flipkart to Qatar Investment Authority for $100 million (about Rs 650 crore), in a deal that values India’s biggest online marketplace at $15 billion, according to two people aware of the transaction. Accel, the first venture investor in Flipkart, remains the second-largest shareholder in the e-commerce company behind New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management. The venture firm’s latest transaction is its most significant involving Flipkart since selling the e-commerce company’s shares worth more than $80 million to undisclosed buyers last year. “The (Accel-QIA) deal closed in November,” one person said. “Given that valuation numbers are expected to stabilise, this is the right time to book returns.” Both the sources declined to be identified. Valuations of Indian internet companies are beginning to stagnate or drop after being propelled by an unprecedented funding boom in the first half of this year. Investors are now turning their attention to companies that are focused on making sustainable profits and not relying on investor money to win customers. Flipkart cofounder and chief executive Sachin Bansal and QIA did not reply to emails from ET. Subrata Mitra, partner at Accel Partners, India, in an email reply only said: “From time to time, Accel Partners, globally, has sold a small fraction of our holdings in some of our portfolio companies, as secondary transactions… All we can confirm to you right now is that no such transaction is in process.”
Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the Arab nation, was one of five new investors in Flipkart in December 2014 when the online retailer raised $700 million at a valuation of $11 billion. The other new investors then were Baillie Gifford, Greenoaks Capital, Stead view Capital, T. Rowe Price Associates, who injected money in Flipkart alongside existing investors DST Global, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, ICONIQ Capital and Tiger Global. A few months later, in March, ET reported that Helion Ventures and IDG had sold their stakes in Flipkart — making full and partial exits, respectively — in deals that valued the company at $12.5 billion. Accel, which owned about a 20% stake in Flipkart then, raised a new fund of Rs 1,890 crore about the same time. “Last year, there was a huge round of valuation of E commerce companies but the reality is these companies are not making cash flows and profits, and that has to now be the next benchmark for valuations,” said Raja Lahiri, a partner at consultancy Grant Thornton, not referring to any company in particular. Flipkart, in a recent regulatory filing, posted a loss of about Rs 2,000 crore for the fiscal year ended March 2015. An investor unrelated to Flipkart suggested that the Accel-QIA deal may have been a routine year-end move. “Typically, funds look for an upside on their holdings at end of the year as it determines the performance, and Flipkart is one of (Accel’s) biggest holdings,” the investor said.