Bengaluru: BigBasket, which has put merger talks with smaller rival Grofers on hold, may raise fresh funds from at least one new investor and existing investors in a round that is likely to value India’s largest online grocery startup at $1.5-2 billion, three people aware of the discussions said. Mint could not immediately ascertain the name of the new investor.

Alibaba-backed BigBasket may end up raising about $300-400 million as part of the latest funding talks, the people cited above said, requesting anonymity. BigBasket has received a term sheet as part of the latest talks, they said.

If BigBasket closes the latest round at a valuation of $1.5 billion, it would become the eighth Indian start-up to join the exclusive, so-called unicorn club—startups that are valued at $1 billion and above.

One of the people cited above said BigBasket plans to use the fresh funds to expand aggressively across major metros in the country, buy smaller startups that will fill gaps in its offerings and expand into new categories such as beauty products and meat.

A BigBasket spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

In an interview in June, BigBasket co-founder and chief executive Hari Menon said that BigBasket was well-capitalized and was not looking to raise fresh funds.

The latest funding will be significant for BigBasket as it looks to shore itself up against e-retailers such as Amazon India and Walmart Inc.-backed Flipkart, both of which are investing heavily to boost their respective grocery businesses.

In May, Mint had reported that BigBasket was in talks to raise between $300 million and $500 million from Alibaba and new investors, at a time when the talks were at an initial stage.

Earlier this year, BigBasket raised $300 million in primary and secondary capital from Alibaba at a valuation of roughly $800 million.

BigBasket had previously raised $150 million from investors such as Sands Capital, International Finance Corp. and Dubai-based private equity investor Abraaj Capital and is easily the most well-funded online grocery startup in the country.

Mint had first reported in September that BigBasket and smaller SoftBank-backed rival Grofers had revived talks to merge.

The Economic Times newspaper reported earlier on Monday that the talks between BigBasket and Grofers had fallen through for now and that Grofers is in talks to raise fresh funds from SoftBank and other investors.

BigBasket, a Bengaluru-based startup founded in December 2011 and operated by Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt. Ltd, is the market leader in the online grocery segment. It is trying to expand its lead on the back of its February fundraising, before an escalation in the market share war with Flipkart and Amazon.

In July, Menon said BigBasket aims to touch a $1 billion gross sales run rate by March 2019. In March 2018, BigBasket recorded about 230 crore in gross monthly sales, with an annual exit rate of around 3,000 crore.

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