BANGALORE, India — Flipkart Online Services Pvt has made a revised bid to acquire rival Snapdeal for about $950 million, an offer that could lead to a final agreement between India’s two largest local e-commerce providers within three weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
Snapdeal’s board members discussed the proposal on a conference call late last night after rejecting an earlier offer of about $850 million, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The final price of the current bid will range between $900 million and $950 million, depending on the cash and debt on Snapdeal’s balance sheet at the time of signing, they said.
The Flipkart-Snapdeal combination is aimed at creating a stronger homegrown competitor to Amazon.com Inc., which has been gaining ground in India as it invests what it says will be $5 billion in the market. Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp., which backs Snapdeal, and New York’s Tiger Global Management, a Flipkart investor, have advocated for the merger, which has been under discussion for months..
Separately, Snapdeal has held very early discussions with online retailer Infibeam Inc. about an alternative offer to combine forces, said one of the people. Infibeam, which went public in April 2016 to become the country’s first listed e-commerce company, has a market value about $960 million. A deal with Infibeam is less likely than a Flipkart agreement, the person said.
Flipkart, Snapdeal and SoftBank did not respond to requests for comment. Infibeam was not immediately available for comment.
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Flipkart and Snapdeal have been in merger talks since at least April as they debate the proper terms of a combination. One central issue has been that Snapdeal investors will see the value of the business cut by at least 85 percent from its peak of $7 billion. SoftBank and Snapdeal’s other backers have already agreed to reduce the valuation to about $1 billion.
Still unresolved are objections from Snapdeal’s small investors, including billionaire Azim Premji, to special payments earmarked for its early investors and two founders. That dispute will have to be resolved by Snapdeal’s board even as it considers Flipkart’s offer.
A Snapdeal board meeting may make a final decision in the coming days and once the deal is accepted and signed, the final closing could be a few months away.
By Saritha Rai; editors: Peter Elstrom and Robert Fenner.