India’s largest baby products retailer Firstcry (Brainbees Solutions Pvt Ltd) is reportedly in talks to several investors to raise up to $100-150 million. According to people aware of the development, the Mahindra group-backed retailer has revived talks with Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings. It’s also in discussion with Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent, and has approached another unidentified Chinese investment firm. The company has appointed Morgan Stanley as its investment bank for the deal.
Founded in 2010 by Supam Maheshwar and Amitava Saha, the Pune-based startup has raised more than $100 million from investors including Mahindra, IDG Ventures India, New Enterprise Associates, SAIF Partners and Temasek’s subsidiary Vertex Ventures. Over the years it has set itself as a successful vertical e-commerce firm and has thrived in the hot water despite the ongoing battle between Flipkart and Amazon India in online retailing space. The company claims itself as Asia’s largest online portal for baby and kids products – it has become the inarguable market leader after its acquisition of the baby care franchisee division of Mahindra Retail (BabyOye) a year ago for about $53.4 million (Rs 362 crore), a deal considered a landmark in Indian retail, to create a dominant presence in the baby and kids market in India.
Chinese Internet behemoth Tencent has been betting big on India and now grown a solid foothold in the world’s second populated market – for past three years it has ploughed into a wide array of Indian fast-growing start-ups including two of the country’s most valuable start-ups, Flipkart (for roughly 6% stake) and Ola (led a $1.1 billion-round), together with other early-to-mid stage ones such as edtech startup Byju’s, Bangalore-based online healthcare platform Practo (also known as an Uber for finding doctors in India) and India’s WhatsApp rival Hike. In April last year, it announced a $700 million investment into Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce major , along with eBay Inc. and Microsoft Corp in a funding round totaling $1.4 billion.
Yet Tencent is never alone in its aggressive India stretch. Naspers, the South African media conglomerate and biggest shareholder (31.2% stake) of Tencent, announced earlier that it is looking to utilise the $9.8 billion proceeds it raked in as part of the recent 2% Tencent stake sale for investments in “core e-commerce segments” globally, with major focus of the capital allocation going to the Indian market. “Both Tencent and Naspers are huge believers of the Indian market, and we have the intention to do a lot more together going forward,” said Bob Van Dijk, Chief Executive of Naspers in an earlier talk with The Economic Times.