Alibaba, Foxconn Invest $500 Million in India’s Snapdeal

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Foxconn Technology Group pushed further into India by leading an investment of $500 million in Snapdeal that values the five-year-old online marketplace at about $4.7 billion.

While Snapdeal did not specify the breakdown of the investments, Foxconn and its unit FIH Mobile Ltd. will invest a total of $200 million for a 4.27 percent stake. Existing investors SoftBank Group, Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd. and BlackRock Inc. also participated in the round, Snapdeal said in a statement on Tuesday.

Snapdeal is in a three-way battle for dominance in India with local rival Flipkart Online Services Pvt. and Inc. of the U.S. The companies have drawn investors from around the world seeking to repeat the success of Alibaba, which last year held the largest initial public offering ever. In the previous 18 months alone, more than $5 billion has been invested in Indian e-commerce, resulting in companies hiring Bollywood stars as ambassadors and luring customers with huge discounts.

“India is among the last truly large markets that’s still untapped, so everyone wants to get a stake,” Pragya Singh, vice president for retail at consultant Technopak Advisors Pvt, said by phone on Tuesday. “The competition will go up, everyone will push hard to get more sellers, and there will be lots of discounts and offers to woo customers.”

Billionaire Investors

Alibaba’s investment in Snapdeal raises the prospects of a partnership between the two on technology and products. Unlike Amazon’s Indian unit, Snapdeal had to develop its technical processes and systems in-house, and there are lot of areas where Alibaba’s expertise could come in handy, Singh said.

Shares of Alibaba fell 1.7 percent to $73.88 in New York trading.

The latest deal expands the list of billionaires backing the New Delhi-based company, with Jack Ma and Foxconn’s Terry Gou, joining the ranks of SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Indian software giant Wipro Ltd.’s Azim Premji.

Foxconn’s investment included a stake worth $50 million bought by FIH Mobile from EBay Inc., the company said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Snapdeal will keep buying companies as it works toward becoming profitable in two years, Kunal Bahl, chief executive officer and co-founder, said in May.

The valuations of Indian e-commerce companies are rising at an unprecedented pace and there could be a “wave of consolidation” as smaller players don’t have the financial muscle to stay in the market, Singh said.

Foxconn this month said its prepared to invest as much as $2 billion in technology project in India over the next decade of the country addresses infrastructure deficiencies. FIH started making its first smartphones in the country this year.

Alibaba’s finance arm agreed this year to buy a stake in One97 Communications Ltd., owner of an online payments processor in India.

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