What a difference a week makes. Less than seven days after Flipkart’s much-rumored acquisition of Snapdeal appeared to be nearing completion following months of speculation, the deal has officially died.
All that stood between a reported $900-$950 million acquisition was the approval of Snapdeal’s board, but now talks are over and Snapdeal will continue on as an independent company. Rumors of a coming-together began in April.
“Snapdeal has been exploring strategic options over the last several months. The company has now decided to pursue an independent path and is terminating all strategic discussions as a result,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The company will not shop itself to rival Flipkart — which is seeking a boost in its efforts to battle Amazon — but it has agreed to trade its Freecharge payment business, bought for just shy of $500 million in 2015, to Axis Bank for a bargain price of $60 million. Snapdeal, which was valued as high as $6.5 billion in 2015, said in a statement that the sale and other cost-cutting measures will make the company “financially self-sustainable” again.
“Snapdeal’s vision has always been to create life-changing experiences for millions of buyers and sellers across India. We have a new and compelling direction — Snapdeal 2.0 — that uniquely furthers this vision, and have made significant progress towards the ability to execute this by achieving a gross profit this month,” it added.
The death of the deal appears to have been down to opposite early Snapdeal investors Kalaari Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, according to a Reuters report. According to the publication, roadblocks put up by Snapdeal killed negotiations. Founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal ultimately opted to remain independent and, with the backing of the two investors, are looking running a “stripped down” version of the service. That’s likely to mean more layoffs for Snapdeal’s 1,000-plus staff. The company let 500-600 employees go in a cost-cutting move made in February.
SoftBank and Tiger Global, two major Snapdeal backers, were reportedly particularly keen on the Flipkart-Snapdeal alignment as it would get them equity in Flipkart, which has emerged as Amazon’s biggest e-commerce competitor. Flipkart, which has battled slowing growth and C-level changes over the past few years, appointed new CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy in January and then went on to raise $1.4 billion in funding from eBay, Microsoft and Tencent in April at a valuation of $11.6 billion.