Bengaluru: India’s largest online retailer Flipkart has completed its $100 million repurchase of employee stock options (ESOPs), making it the largest-ever share buyback programme in the history of the Indian startup ecosystem.
In a short statement on Wednesday, Flipkart said that over 3,000 existing and former employees of Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and PhonePe had participated in the share repurchase programme.
“Employees are our biggest source of strength, without whom Flipkart couldn’t have built the e-commerce industry in India. As an organisation, we believe they should be equal partners in Flipkart’s success. This ESOP repurchase programme is an extension of that culture, and a token of thanks for the dedication and hard work they have put in over the years. We’re delighted to be setting the benchmark on this important parameter, not only in the startup industry but the wider Indian private sector as well," said Flipkart founders Sachin and Binny Bansal (not related) in a statement.
This, however, isn’t the first time that Flipkart executed a share buyback programme for employees. In the past five years, Flipkart has completed at least four such buybacks, though none on the scale of the latest programme.
Mint had first reported on 30 November that Japanese telecom and internet conglomerate SoftBank had offered to buy shares from investors and former and existing employees of Flipkart, a deal that would value Flipkart at roughly $9-10 billion.
SoftBank had offered to buy those shares at roughly $85-89 apiece and had also imposed certain caps on the quantity of stocks each employee could sell. Investment bank Goldman Sachs managed the share sale programme.
While the share sale took place at a lower valuation than Flipkart’s peak valuation of $15 billion, it still represented a big win for most of Flipkart’s earliest and largest investors, especially Tiger Global managing director Lee Fixel, who had staked his reputation on the Flipkart investment, and also for Accel, which was Flipkart’s first institutional investor.