SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications company run by billionaire Masayoshi Son, is investing nearly $900 million in two Indian companies, including one that competes with the Uber ride-sharing service.
The Tokyo-based company will invest $627 million in Indian e-retailer Snapdeal.com to tap the country’s growing online market. In addition, SoftBank Internet and Media, a unit, will also lead an investment of $210 million in ANI Technologies, which runs the Ola Cabs taxi booking service that competes with Uber Technologies.
SoftBank, which is the majority owner of Overland Park-based Sprint, announced the investments Tuesday.
The investment in India’s e-commerce industry, which CLSA Asia Pacific Markets projects will grow sevenfold to $22 billion by 2018, adds to the Japanese carrier’s spate of acquisitions. SoftBank has invested in more than 1,300 technology companies including a $250 million stake in Legendary Entertainment, the producer of “Godzilla,” and a 32 percent stake in Alibaba Group Holding.
“There are humongous opportunities in the digital startups” in India, said Sandeep Ladda, who leads the Indian technology practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Mumbai. “How consumers behave is changing permanently. That is what is attracting SoftBank and other players to India.”
Snapdeal runs an e-commerce marketplace where about 50,000 sellers offer a wide range of goods, from condoms to apparel and shoes. The company, founded in 2010, has so far raised $1 billion this year, including this round from SoftBank and counts investors including eBay, Indian billionaire Azim Premji and former Tata group chairman Ratan Tata.
The funds from SoftBank will be used by Snapdeal to increase the number of sellers on its system, build warehouses in more Indian cities and hire engineers, the New Delhi-based company said in the statement.
“We believe India is at a turning point in its development and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade,” said Son, who is also the chief executive officer of SoftBank. “As part of this belief, we intend to deploy significant capital in India over the next few years to support development of the market.”
Son is Japan’s second-richest person with a net worth of $14.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.