Walmart's Flipkart in early talks for U.S. listing via SPAC deal - sources

Anirban Sen and Sankalp Phartiyal
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Special Report AMAZON-INDIA/OPERATION

By Anirban Sen and Sankalp Phartiyal

(Reuters) - Walmart Inc-owned Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart is exploring going public in the United States through a deal with a blank-check firm, although a traditional stock market listing is much more likely, people familiar with the matter said.

The talks for a deal with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) are at a very early stage and could fall apart as no plans have been finalized yet, said the people, who declined to be named as the information is confidential.

"We have been clear that we support an IPO for Flipkart, but we have not made any decisions on timing, listing venue or methodology," a spokesman for Walmart told Reuters.

Walmart acquired a roughly 77% stake in Flipkart for about $16 billion in 2018 and said later that year that it could take the company public in four years.

A growing number of Indian startups are considering the SPAC route to public markets as it involves less regulatory scrutiny and gives companies more certainty over the valuation that will be attained and the funds that will be raised.

India's largest renewable energy firm ReNew Power last month struck a deal with a blank-check company to go public in the United States, while SoftBank-backed online grocery startup Grofers has also held talks with SPACs.

At least a dozen more Indian tech and internet startups are expected to choose that route to the public markets over the next 6-12 months, investment bankers have told Reuters.

Reuters first reported in September that Bengaluru-based Flipkart was preparing for an initial public offering overseas as early as 2021, which could value the firm at as much as $50 billion.

Flipkart, which competes with Amazon.com's local unit and India's Reliance Industries, has already started talks with investment banks for its listing plans, the sources said.

Bloomberg reported Flipkart's latest plans earlier on Thursday.

(Reporting by Anirban Sen, Noor Zainab Hussain and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru, Sankalp Phartiyal in New Delhi and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Derek Francis, Shubham Kalia and Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)