Online classifieds firm Quikr India Pvt. Ltd has raised around Rs.130 crore from Brand Capital, the private treaty arm of media company Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL), said two people aware of the development.
According to documents filed with the Registrar of Companies, Brand Equity Treaties Ltd, which owns Brand Capital, invested Rs.130 crore in Quikr India via 143,000 fully convertible debentures at Rs.9,038 apiece and one equity share of the same price.
Convertible debentures are debt instruments that can be converted into stock.
As part of the deal, BCCL will also have to publish ads in its media properties such as ET Now and Times Now channels and The Times of India and The Economic Timesnewspapers for a predetermined number of years, said the two people mentioned above, on condition of anonymity.
Mint could not ascertain the tenure of the deal.
Quikr and Sivakumar Sundaram, chief executive officer at Brand Capital, didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.
The so-called private treaty deals were first introduced by BCCL in 2004 to build a large portfolio of holdings. Such deals were once controversial, especially because they also involved positive media coverage.
But since then, such deals have become commonplace, and meet mandated disclosure norms. At BCCL, private treaties are handled by the company’s Brand Capital unit. HT Media Ltd, the publisher of Mint and Hindustan Times, has its own version of such deals.
With the investment in Quikr, BCCL will soon have an investment in three big home-grown consumer internet start-ups. The company is in advanced talks to pick up a small stake in Flipkart Ltd for Rs.500 crore and had picked up a stake in Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd) in February this year, Mint reported on 4 June.
Flipkart and Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd) are among the so-called unicorn start-ups in India, valued at more than $1 billion each, while Quikr India was valued at about $900 million during its last bid to raise funds in April last year.
BCCL is well-entrenched in the domestic start-up ecosystem. Its internet arm, Times Internet Ltd, has invested in at least 20 start-ups in the last couple of years. Overall, BCCL has investments in a large number of start-ups such as cab-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc., services provider Haptik Inc., education start-up Coursera Inc., e-commerce-focused logistics service provider Delhivery (SSN Logistics Pvt. Ltd), online grocer ZopNow Retail Pvt. Ltd, online fashion store Voonik Technologies Pvt. Ltd and online marketplace Infibeam Inc. Ltd.
The group has its own online shopping portal called Indiatimes Shopping. BCCL also owns real estate listings website Magicbricks and digital music start-up Gaana.
Quikr, which has raised $346 million from Tiger Global Management and Kinnevik AB, among others, is focusing on five business segments—automobiles, real estate, jobs, services and customer-to-customer sales —that it has identified as new sources of revenue to fend off competition from other venture capital-backed firms that have emerged in each of these categories. The firm has been investing aggressively to build these verticals by both acquiring companies and making strategic investments.
Quikr acquired real estate portal Commonfloor (maxHeap Technologies Pvt. Ltd) for $120 million in January. It has also acquired Indian Realty Exchange (123 Startup Ventures Pvt. Ltd), a real estate agent aggregator, and RealtyCompass, a realty analytics start-up, besides making a strategic investment in A.N. Virtual World Tech Ltd, a company which provides 360-degree street views.
In May, Quikr acquired Gurgaon-based home beauty services provider Salosa, run by Beawel Tech Pvt. Ltd, for an undisclosed amount to bolster its home services business. In July, it bought online hiring portal Hiree (Abhiman Technologies Pvt. Ltd) to boost its jobs business.