Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar-backed Indian virtual sports and entertainment company, Smaaash Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, is planning to launch its initial public offering (IPO) to raise 500 crore from the market, said two people aware of the development.

“Smaaash will be raising close to 500 crore through the IPO. The company has appointed a few investment bankers. It is likely to happen by December 2018," said one of the people aware of the development, requesting anonymity. When contacted, Smaaash Entertainment declined to comment on the development.

Founded in 2012 by businessman Shripal Morakhia, Smaaash is also endorsed by Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team.

In May, Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company I-Am Capital had signed an agreement with Smaaash to acquire a 24.5% stake in the company for $49 million. “They are planning to close the $49 million round from I-AM Capital in the next 15-20 days, most probably, by the end of August. After that they will start the IPO process," said the second person, also requesting anonymity.

Smaaash will use the cash proceeds to fund its inorganic growth initiatives, repay part of its debt and for its working capital requirements.

The company owns and operates digital entertainment centres for cricket, football, go-karting and bowling, besides virtual games across its 30 centres in India. It also has a centre in the US and plans to expand its services to Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Last August, Smaaash had raised 90 crore from high net-worth individual (HNIs) clients of Avendus Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd, the wealth management arm of financial services firm Avendus Capital. The same months also saw PVR Ltd and the Major Cineplex Group selling their bowling joint venture, PVR BluO Entertainment Ltd, to Smaaash for 86 crore.

In July 2017, it had raised 280 crore through a mix of equity and debt. “Smaaash has cemented its position in the gaming and entertainment sector. The IPO will help accelerate its growth plans and expand further," the first person added.

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