Singapore: Qoo10 e-commerce platform acquires ShopClues

New Delhi – Online marketplace ShopClues is being acquired by Singapore-based e-commerce platform Qoo10 in an all-stock deal bringing to an end a prolonged hunt by the Indian e-tailer for a buyer.

The transaction is learnt to have valued ShopClues at $70-100 million, according to three sources aware of the developments, in what is possibly the largest valuation meltdown for a venture-backed Indian startup, given that ShopClues at its peak was valued at $1.1 billion in late 2015.

ShopClues confirmed the development following a detailed questionnaire ET sent earlier on Thursday.

“This partnership presents new strategic opportunities for both companies, as it opens up cross-border opportunities for consumers and sellers across Asia,” the company said in a prepared statement. The web retailer, while terming this as a “merger”, said the deal has been approved by board of directors and major shareholders of both companies.

Sources close to the matter, however, said the acquisition is not yet fully completed. As part of the buyout, Qoo10 will also acquire Momoe, the payments arm of Clues Network, which also owns the ShopClues marketplace. The ShopClues brand name may also not be retained after the closure of the transaction, sources said.

Additionally, Qoo10 CEO Ku Young Bae had earlier invested an estimated $1 million in ShopClues in his personal capacity, but through a special purpose vehicle, according the sources mentioned above. “This (deal) is one of the largest write-offs for investors like Nexus Venture Partners and Helion Venture Partners, which had a sizeable exposure to the company across their funds,” said one person aware of the deal. Qoo10operates localised online marketplaces across Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong. In 2015, it raised $82.1 million from Singapore Press Holdings, eBay, Saban Capital Group, UVM 2 Venture Investments, Brookside Capital and Oak Investment Partners. While ShopClues counts Tiger Global Management, Nexus Venture Partners and GIC, the Singapore Government-owned sovereign wealth fund as its lead investors. In 2015, when the e-tailer was gaining momentum, it went lockstep with other domestic retail powerhouses Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal to try and gain pole position in India’s highly-combative e-commerce sector.

ShopClues, founded in 2011 by Sandeep Aggarwal, has had a tumultuous leadership history, with its founder stepping down as CEO in 2013 after being charged with insider trading in the US, and handing over operations to Radhika Ghai Aggarwal and Sanjay Sethi. The cash-strapped company has been scouting for fr esh investments, having survived on multiple bridge rounds from its existing set of backers, and later looking for buyers after fresh financing rounds failed to materialise. Tiger Global, which  had pumped in $80-100 million into the company, later wrote off the entire investment.

ShopClues last raised Rs 7.8 crore from its parent entity in September, regulatory filings show. It had entered into negotiations to be acquired by Snapdeal, that could have seen Ghai, Aggarwal and Sethi get a 10% stake in the latter, but the deal failed to go through after the companies failed to agree on anumber of critical issues. “It was only during the due diligence process that Snapdeal figured ShopClues had unpaid dues to vendors running up to $30-40 million. Snapdeal was not ready to take that on,” a person who was involved in the talks had told ET earlier.

ShopClues, which was once known for keeping its expenses low compared to peers, however, continued to lose market share with the likes of Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, post its pivot in 2017, seriously looking to capture customers beyond the top cities. (India Times)