Ecommerce firm FirstCry raises $240 million from NIIF

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Ecommerce firm FirstCry raises $240 million from NIIF
Ecommerce firm FirstCry raises $240 million from NIIF

The ecommerce firm had conducted a $315-million secondary share sale in March last year and the latest transaction marks investor exits of $555 million in the past one year

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), India’s sovereign wealth fund has made its first bet on the country’s internet economy with ecommerce firm FirstCry, people aware of the matter said. By buying stock worth $100 million, NIIF led a $240-million secondary funding round in the ecommerce firm.

In the new round where SoftBank has sold the largest chunk of shares, the Pune-based company’s existing investor Premji Invest has also purchased additional shares in the ecommerce firm.

Chiratae Ventures and Newquest Capital Partners have also sold parts of their holding in the company. Post this funding, SoftBank will still have around 30 per cent in FirstCry’s parent company Brainbees Solutions, people briefed on the matter said.

While the majority of the secondary financing has come from NIIF and Premji, other new investors have also come on board in this round but their names are not known yet. In a secondary transaction, new investors buy shares from existing investors and the money doesn’t go to company coffers.

ET had first reported about NIIF being in talks with SoftBank-backed ecommerce firm FirstCry for an investment in May last year. The deal has been approved by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) as well.

The ecommerce firm had conducted a $315-million secondary share sale in March last year and the latest transaction marks investor exits of $555 million in the past one year. “Of the total round share sale this time, around 50 to 60 per cent has been done by SoftBank while others have also participated in taking partial exits. In the last one year, they (FirstCry) have emerged as one of the few companies to have conducted secondary transactions at this scale”, a person aware of the matter said. The company has raised minor primary capital of around $15 million in the last 12-18 months, this person added.

When contacted, the ecommerce firm didn’t respond to ET’s query on Wednesday. Emails sent to NIIF, SoftBank, Premji Invest, Chiratae and Newquest did not elicit any response.

NIIF manages capital commitments of over $4.5 billion across three funds — Master Fund, Fund of Funds and Strategic Opportunities Fund. ET had reported last year, to invest more in the digital economy space the ecommerce firm is part of NIIF’s thinking. They (NIIF) want to invest more and have wider exposure”, one of the sources mentioned above added.

FirstCry also runs a logistics arm – Xpresbees — which was spun out in 2015. ET reported last month the logistics unit is set to turn into a unicorn as it is in the final stages of closing a $300 million funding round. FirstCry is also one of the key shareholders in Thrasio-style venture Global Bees which recently was valued at $1.1 billion following a $110 million funding.

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